Five Tips for Choosing a Doula
Many women wanting a child birth with minimal medically invasive techniques usually seek out two types of women: a doula and a midwife. A midwife does all of the medical care, including the prenatal care, ultrasounds, and delivery of the baby. A doula, on the other hand, provides no medical care; she is there solely for physical, mental, and emotional support, and can attend home births and hospital births. A doula can be used with or without a midwife. So, how do you find and choose a doula?
To find a doula you can ask for recommendations from your childbirth educator (who may be a doula as well), or ask your friends and family members if they, or anyone they know, used a doula. There may also be a listing of doulas in a local “natural” magazine, such as Natural Awakenings. There are several organizations that certify doulas, such as DONA and CAPPA, and they may provide a list of their certified participants on their websites (there is usually a search option on the sites, if that is the case). By just searching online you can find numerous doulas advertising their services.
Once you find a few doulas that interest you, contact them and set interviews. During the interview, ask the doula any questions you might have. Here are some generally good questions to ask:
- Are they certified?
- What is their birth philosophy?
- How many clients have they had, and how many they are currently working with?
- Do they have a backup doula, in case of an emergency? If yes, can you meet the backup doula(s)?
- Is child care an issue for them (if they have children)?
- Would they meet you at your home or at the hospital?
- How far they are from your home or hospital?
It is important to know their birth philosophy, as this can help you decide which doula would be ideal for the specific type of birth you are seeking. Matching your philosophy will also help you avoid any conflicts and receive maximum support.
You will also need to examine how the doula interacts with the partner/person who will be in the birth room with you. Does the doula ask your partner questions and take his/her concerns seriously? Is your partner included in discussions?
Next, find out what the doula’s prices are, as well as the cancellation policy. Prices can differ from doula to doula, and this can be based on several things, such as: if the doula is still working on becoming certified, or is certified already; the doulas experience; and the services offered by the doula. Many, if not all, doulas charge a deposit once hired (This is to reserve a place on their calendar.). What happens if you don’t need a doula anymore? Is the deposit kept? Do all services still need to be paid for?
Last and most important is to let your instincts guide you. Instincts are usually correct, and following them is usually best. Is something not clicking? Is there an ill feeling? Is the energy good? Do you feel comfortable around the doula? Birth is a sacred time; trust the way you feel.