So you’re expecting a baby and you’ve decided you want a doula. In an earlier article I discussed what services and support a doula offers. In this article I’m going to help you learn the questions you should ask and the criteria you should look for when choosing a doula for yourself.
A doula’s goal is to fully support and inform the pregnant woman, and he or she will accompany a home birth or a hospital birth. A doula will not administer any medical tasks such as blood pressure or temperature. He or she will provide emotional and physical support for the woman and/or her partner. The doula offers a solid foundation of support so the partner can fully love and be attentive to the mother-to-be.
There are birth doulas and postpartum doulas. If you are choosing a birth doula, decide your expectations. Write down what you want to go over prior to birth. If you are choosing a postpartum doula, decide when you would want to meet with her and your expectations of her immediately after the baby is born.
Whether you are having a hospital birth, a home birth, or a birth in a birth center, I advise all of my clients to get a doula. Trust me. This is the most beneficial thing you can prep yourself and your partner with prior to birth and an invaluable person to have with you during birth.
There are doulas for all types of people. I’ve been in the room with soft, delicate, tender doulas who are like an angel sent from above. I’ve also been in the room with firm, strong, doulas who are like a rock. Neither is better than the other. It completely depends on the needs of the woman doing the choosing.
Krista Miracle (yes, that is her name) has been a doula for numerous births and is now training to be a midwife. She offers this advice:
What I truly believe when choosing your doula is to ensure that you connect with her on an intimate level, as she will be your sister in birth; trust yourself to understand that you alone hold the key to a beautiful experience and birth. Having this faith will lead you to the doula that is perfect for you.
Here is the approach I suggest for choosing a doula:
- If you have no clue, get on DONA International and start reading. This is a great website with lots of answers. It even has doula locator, so you can type in your area to find the nearest registered doula.
- Get referrals. Ask your friends, call places, or post on Facebook. Put feelers out there.
- Interview at least three doulas. Even if you love the first person you interview, continue to interview two more.
- Find out their experience with pregnancy, birth, and the training they have taken. Doulas take a variety of education and birth method classes from Lamaze to CPR. The classes they take definitely shape the doula they become.
- Know the doula’s accessibility. I would want to know that I could text, call, or email my doula at any point with a question.
- Ask the doula’s philosophy in regards to pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and life. As your biggest support, you want to know where your doula is coming from.
This doula is the person who will guide you through the end of pregnancy, into birth, and in the postpartum period. The doula could have all the training and education in the world but unless your hearts and energy connect then it is not worthwhile. You want to feel safe, comfortable, and trusting of your doula. Above all, you want to feel a deep connection to your doula.
Have you used a doula? Do you have advice on making this choice? Please share in the comments below.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.