What to Look For in a Doula

When you are looking at hiring a doula many things come to mind that become qualifying criteria; this may include your budget, her experience, and her proximity to you. Here are 10 things that you may want to consider when looking for the best fit in a doula.

1- Is your doula supportive of where you are planning to birth?

Some doulas are  “Home Birth” doulas. Many “Home Birth” doulas will have a strong agenda geared towards the home birth experience and this can cause issues during your birth. Make sure you pick a doula who is truly supportive of your vision for your birth.

2- How does your doula view her role during your birth?

Before you even make the call to speak with a potential doula, you may have already formed an idea of what your birth experience will look like. You will want to make sure that your doula’s view of her role matches your view. Are you wanting an advocate during your birth? Are you wanting a doula to support a specific birth modality? It is important answer these questions in order to find a doula that is truly a good fit for your birthing experience.

3- How does your doula feel about pain medication during birth?

For many doulas a medication free birth is an ideal birth and many doulas will arrive with this agenda in mind. It’s important to remember that births are unpredictable and plans may change mid-birth. Having a doula that is supportive of medicated and unmedicated births is important in avoiding tension between you and your doula when the original birth plan changes. Make sure that you and your doula are aligned about this important topic well before the birth is in progress.

4- What does your doula fee cover?

Being sent an additional bill after your birth may not be what you want, or you may prefer a smaller fee with additional fees when applicable. There are some doulas who charge less up front, but will charge an additional per hour rate if your birth goes longer than 10-12 hours, and other doulas will charge a fee for having to use a back up or second doula. You will want to discuss with them if their fees are inclusive, or if there will be additional fees assessed after the birth. In the long run, choosing a doula with an all-inclusive package may be cheaper than hiring a cheaper doula with additions being added on at the end.

5- Does your doula offer additional services?

If you know you are going to want additional supports such as lactation consultation, belly binding, or placental encapsulation, consider asking if your doula provides these services. It’s always nice to know that you only need to contact one person to get all the support you need.

6- What is your doula’s experience?

Now it is not all about experience in numbers, but more about her experience in the birth community. Has she worked with your care provider before? Has she attended many home births? Is she comfortable with a multiples birth? These are things to consider. Sometimes the difference between doula A and doula B is the fact that doula B has worked with your care provider before.

7- How does your doula handle back-up support?

If she is unable to make it to your birth, how does your doula handle a back up doula? Do you pay the fee, or is it included? Does the back-up doula have similar experience? How often does your doula use her back-up? If you spend all this time interviewing and choosing a doula, you may not want to pick a doula who uses her back up 50% of the time. Maybe your doula works in a co-op and they rotate who is on every week. Are you OK with another doula showing up to your birth instead of the one you chose? These are things to consider.

8- How many births does your doula commit to each month?

This goes hand in hand with #7. If your doula is taking 6-8 births a month, there is a higher likelihood that she will have to rely on her back-up doulas more. You may not end up with the doula you chose. Also, if your doula is committing to that many births, will she be able to be at the top of her game if you are birth #3 in 10 days?

9- How does your doula connect with your partner?

Your doula is there to support both of you. If your partner is not keen on your doula choice, this can cause issues during the birth. Make sure your doula connects well with your partner and that they want her there as well.

10- Is your doula a person you feel comfortable bringing into a moment as intimate as a birth?

Your doula may look wonderful on paper, may have the right price and have all the skills you’re looking for, but if you don’t “click” then that is all worth very little. Your doula is a person you will be relying on during a very vulnerable and intimate moment in your life; you should feel relaxed and confident when you think of her being at your birth.