So you’ve heard about doulas and learned what we do and don’t do. You’ve done some reading and realize that you want the birth of your child to be a positive, mom and baby-centered experience, and that you want to be informed, educated, and supported during your pregnancy and delivery experience. You want to hire a doula, but how do you actually go about doing that?
There are several key factors to consider when deciding which doula is a right fit for your birth team. Consider these questions:
1. What are my unique circumstances? Will you be seeking a VBAC or delivering at home? Are you having a high risk pregnancy? Do I want a doula who will be able to pray with me within my own faith? Is this your first baby, or your first med-free baby? How does your partner feel about having a doula attend the birth? These questions will help you determine the sort of experience your doula should have.
2. What do I want from my doula? Do you expect to attend childbirth education classes with her as well or are you interested in only her doula services? Or would you like to receive postpartum care from her as well? What sort of experience do you expect her to bring to the table? How many prenatal or postpartum meetings do you want with her? How often will you be able to communicate with her during your pregnancy? How does her education and experience apply to the birth experience you desire? Is it important to you that she has worked with your hospital or doctor before?
3. What I can afford to pay? Have you considered that even a “free” doula is spending money out of her own pocket to attend your birth? Did you know that doulas commonly have many fees to pay- childcare, continuing education courses, gas and parking at the birth, and taxes off her income? Have you researched the cost of doulas in your area, taking into consideration her experience? (This post is a great reference if you’re interested in learning how much a doula actually makes!)
4. How do I feel about her? Check out her website or Facebook page. Do you like what you see? When you meet in person- was there a mutual, personal connection? Can you imagine this person present at one of the most important events of your life? Is she passionate and knowledgeable? You should meet two or three doulas for a consultation before you make your final decision.
Bring a list of questions to the initial consultation if you’d like, but in my experience, one of the most important factors in hiring the right doula is considering whether or not you “clicked” with each other! In the end, when it comes time for you to labor, you’re going to want to be supported with a team who helps you relax and stay calm.
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a doula, start by looking at doulamatch.net to find doulas in your area who are available for your due date, and ask friends for referrals. Good luck!