Evidence supports that having a doula attend your birth has many benefits. But finding a doula can seem like a daunting process. You are trying to find someone that will be there for one of the most important events in your life--the birth of your baby! Here are 5 tips for finding the right doula for YOU!
- Start the process as early as possible. Since most people decide to wait until the 12-week mark to announce that they are expecting, it’s totally fine to wait until that time to start the process of searching for the right doula. You should begin the process by the time you hit your second trimester. Finding the right fit can take time, and many doulas fill their schedules months in advance. Because of the unique on-call schedule of a doula, they typically have limits on how many clients they take per month. It will give you peace of mind if you start the search early.
- Make sure your partner is on board with the decision to hire a doula. Sometimes it is clear in interviews that the partner is actually intimidated, or feels threatened by, the idea of hiring a doula. They think a doula will take their place in the birth room. However, a great doula actually works with the partner. Together they can support the birther in ways that are more helpful and effective than if the doula hadn’t been there. Plus, it’s nice to be able to take some breaks to go to the bathroom and grab something to eat without feeling guilty about leaving the birther alone. Have a partner that’s still not convinced? Have them read this evidence on the benefits of hiring a doula. When a couple hires a doula and the partner is not on board, it can be really difficult for a doula to do their job effectively.
- Think about why you are hiring a doula. Sure, there are tons of reasons to hire a doula (hello, 28% reduction in cesarean birth!) but why are you specifically interested in hiring a doula? Do you have any special needs that might require a doula with a certain type of experience? Are you hoping for a vaginal birth after cesarean? Pregnant with multiples? High risk? Did you have a traumatic first birth? Aside from any special needs that you may have, what kind of presence are you hoping for? Are you looking for someone calming and reassuring, or someone really outgoing with a take-charge presence? It’s okay if you’re not completely sure what you’re looking for, but if you have any non-negotiables in terms of experience or personality, make sure to get clear on what these are before you start interviewing.
- Interview more than one doula. Yes, it is yet another task to add to your mountain of tasks leading up to having the baby, but it is worth it. Ask around for recommendations. Ask friends, co-workers, prenatal yoga instructors, childbirth educators, and your medical provider for recommendations. In addition to just getting a list of names, ask what makes these people great doulas to see if they are a match with what you are looking for. Check out their websites to see what kinds of services they offer, pricing, and if they have a blog or an “About me” section where you can read up on what they are like.
- Make genuine conversation and see if there is a spark. Now this part feels a WHOLE lot like a blind date. You exchange a few texts or emails and then voila, you and your partner (yes, bring your partner) sit face to face in a coffee shop to get to know one another. You have about an hour to determine if this is the doula for you. You might have a list of questions prepared, and by all means feel free to ask those questions. But what I have found as a doula is that the MOST important part of figuring out if this is the right match is to see if there is genuine chemistry between you. It should feel really easy and natural to make conversation, tell them something embarrassing or self-deprecating, and find something to laugh about. More than number of births attended or what kind of certification they hold, if you do not feel comfortable with this person, then it is not worth your money to hire her. You will be walking down a path that is new and at times vulnerable and unnerving. You need to be comfortable with the people on your birth team before labor begins.
Bonus tip: As you research different doulas and are deciding what you can afford, keep in mind that you can pay for doula services with the money in your HSA account. Additionally, with that 28% reduction in cesarean rate for doula-attended births, hiring a doula will make it that much less likely that you will be strapped with a giant hospital bill for a cesarean birth.
Written by Mari Melby, a childbirth educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.