Deciding to have a doula is a big step - inviting someone into your birth, one of the most vulnerable and important moments of your lives requires careful consideration and plenty of research. Getting the right support is important, this blog provides some ideas and advice for selecting your doula.
Initial steps might include a google search for local doulas, assessing their reviews, finding local doula listings, asking for recommendations from friends, your care provider etc. Create a short list of doulas who appear to share your approach and values around your pregnancy and birth and then get in touch.
When you contact a doula its a good idea to provide as much detail as you can. For example, share how many weeks pregnant you are, what your estimated due date is, where you have chosen to give birth, the name of your midwife or obstetrician if you have one, your suburb (so she can make sure she works in your area), and any special situations – for example, if you’re having twins, a VBAC, first time giving birth, or if you have any medical conditions etc. Once you are in touch (by phone or email) make sure that she has availability around your due date and that you have an idea of her fee.
If you still have a good impression of this doula then the next step is to meet in person for an interview or a ‘meet and greet’. Doulas will often be happy to meet you wherever and whenever is best for you. A cafe makes a great venue but other options might include meeting at a local library or even a park/beach to go for a walk together.
It’s a good idea to interview a few doulas, this will give you a good benchmark and will help you to feel confident when you’ve found the right person. Knowing what to ask in the interview can sometimes feel a little tricky, this is likely a new situation for you so below are some suggestions for you to choose from:
What training do you have? Are you certified?
Do you continue your professional education?
How long have you been a doula? How many births have you attended?
Where have you attended births locally? Have you been to my place of birth before? What was your experience?
Do you have any children? What were your birth experiences? How do they impact your work?
How many births do you take on each month?
Do you offer different packages? What are they?
Do you have a backup doula? Can I meet her? How often have you needed to use backups?
How do you view birth? What’s your philosophy around it?
If you’re taking additional antenatal classes - are you familiar with my antenatal education and preparation? Have you supported other clients who have done it?
Will you help us write a birth plan?
Describe your style as a doula
Why did you become a doula? What do you love most about it? What about you makes you a good doula?
How do you support women/a couple during pregnancy
What do you most often do during a labour, when do you come in labour? What will happen when I’m in early labour? Will you come to my home or straight to the hospital?
When are you contactable? How do you like to communicate?
Do you have a time limit on childbirth attendance? How do you manage long births?
How do you work with a husband or partner?
What comfort measures do you find most helpful?
How do you work with care providers? Any negative experiences?
How do you feel about epidurals?
How long do you stay after the birth?
What experience do you have with breastfeeding and breastfeeding education?
Do you offer any additional services or can you refer me on to any?
Do you have any references? Or can I speak to any of your past clients?
What are your payment and refund policies? Can we arrange a payment plan if needed? What happens in the event no labour support (elective c/s or fast labour)?
Do you have a contract that I can see?
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Once you’ve met with her take some time to reflect on your meeting. Things to consider might include:
Was she a good listener? Was she warm and nurturing?
Was she interested in you and what you want? Did she ask you questions?
Did you feel comfortable with her? Did she communicate well?
Did her views on pregnancy and birth align with yours? Do you feel confident in her knowledge and training?
Will she support your choices or push another agenda?
Was it easy to make an appointment with her? Did she take time to answer all your questions or did you feel rushed?
Did you feel that you had a connection with her?
Trust your gut, it’s often smarter than your rational brain especially in relation to birth. And let her know either way, whether you decide to hire her or not. Most will be happy for you, even if you do not hire them because getting the right support for you is our priority.