With the awakening of my birth blog, which aims to help women recognize facts and information that will help them make informed decisions for their own births, I want to discuss one of the most important topics surrounding birth:
How to Hire the Right Doula for You
It's not enough just to hire a doula
It's not enough to check off your to-do list, yes I hired a doula.
Every doula is different...
In the skill and experience she offers you, in supporting you, in her approach during your pregnancy and labor, in her personality and character.
In order to have a positive, calming, and empowered prenatal and birth experience, you need to find the right doula for YOU.
Let's start with the basics every doula should offer.
Here is a list of a variety of support a good doula should offer:
(from the DONA website)
Position ideas for comfort and labor progression cross over with hands-on comfort measures like comforting touch, counter pressure, breathing techniques.
Doulas help families to feel supported, easing the emotional experience of birth and also helping to create a space where the hormones of labor can work at their best. Whether a birth is completely unmedicated or medically very complex, every family can benefit from nurturing and connection at this tender, incredible time in their lives.
The birth partner’s experience matters in birth. Support the birth partner in being as involved as they’d like with the birth. Physical and emotional support make a huge difference for everyone involved.
Evidence-Based Information and Advocacy
Trained to help families connect with evidence-based resources so they can ask great questions and make informed decisions about their births. Serve as a bridge of communication between women and their providers, lifting them up to help them find their voices and advocate for the very best care.
Now that you know what the basics are for what a great doula should offer, here is a list of questions I've compiled for you to get you started on interviewing and finding the right doula that is the best match for YOU personally.
Because as experienced, recommended and pleasant a doula might be, they won't be the right doula for you unless they meet your personal needs and you connect with her.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A DOULA
As with my post 36 Questions to Ask a Home birth Midwife, one important question should really be a question to YOU, so I have included the guideline of evaluating how a doula makes you feel and if she's compatible with you under question 20. I have included several questions from the baby center website as well as personalized questions I would ask if I were hiring a doula for myself.
I hired a doula for my second pregnancy, however, it did not occur to me that not all doulas are the same, and that is the inspiration for me to compile this list and share this post with you, because I want you to succeed in finding the right birth team for you, not just a birth team.
Your first brief conversation with a doula can be on the phone, and if you feel it goes positively, schedule an in person meeting so you can have a more in depth conversation and truly discover how compatible you are, and if you would feel 100% supported, not judged and empowered by this doula during your entire pregnancy, labor, birth and post partum.
Are you available around my due date (for how many weeks before my due date and if up to 2 weeks after) and if in the event of emergency you are unavailable for my birth, who is your back up and when can I meet her?
What constitutes an emergency for you under which you would not be able to join me during labor/birth?
What is your training? Are you certified? If so, by what organization? And what was required in order to receive this certification? How many births have you attended prior to and after becoming certified? Have you ever been to a birth under the role of "birth assistant"
**If you have any concerns about your health during your pregnancy or medical concerns about pregnancy/labor/birth, this is a good time to bring them up to inquire whether she has experience working with mothers in the past with these medical needs, such as VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), breech babies, cesarean births, high anxiety mothers, etc. and how she approaches those sensitive situations.
Are you familiar with my doctor/midwife/hospital/birth center? Do you get along well with my caregiver?
When do you join me during labor? What if I need emotional support during early labor before things become intense, are you available then? Is there a limit to how many hours of support you offer during labor/birth?
How comfortable and how available are you with communicating frequently with me during my pregnancy?
**If you are a mother who is wanting to hire a doula to provide emotional support through out your pregnancy and help dispel fears, this is a very important question to ask. A doula who may not be very available through out your pregnancy, or a doula who may feel burdened with constant prenatal communication may not be a good fit for you personally.
Which labor-coping techniques do you think tend to be the most helpful?
**If you have a specific technique or method in mind that you plan to try, ask about her experience with it.
How would you work with and involve my partner?
How do you feel about the use of pain medication during labor?
Why did you become a doula?
What's your fee? and how can I pay for it? How many birth clients do you take per month and why?
What does your fee cover? How many visits or hours? Do you have anyone else due near the time I'm due?
Can I talk to a few of your recent clients?
Will we meet again to address any concerns or questions I have and to review our birth plan?
What does being on-call mean?
What happens if I have a c-section?
If I have difficulty latching my baby, can you help me?
What makes you stand out among the other doulas?
What if I go early, before 38 weeks?
*If you are planning a Home Birth / Birth Center birth
If I am transferred to the hospital, will you go and stay with me even if just for emotional support?
How soon will I see you again after the baby is born?
Last but not least...
This is a most important question to yourself.
After the interview, try to imagine the doula at the birth with you and see if you feel good about it. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable and safe around this person? Is she warm, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable? Does she communicate and listen well and is patient with you and honors your questions? Will she support my choices or does she have her own agenda? It's also a good idea to check a few references. Ask what they liked most about the doula and whether there's anything they wished she had done differently.
Would you be friends with this person? Why/Why not?
Does either remind you of your mother? How do you feel about this?
Were you able to ask all the questions you wanted to? Why/Why not?
Take note of what feelings may rise from your instincts.
Those feelings will always be 100% right.
I have lived the reality of hushing my own maternal instincts when I hired a doula for my second pregnancy, and ultimately, that decision to not hear my inner most instinct affect my entire birth.
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