A doula is a non-medical birth professional. A doula does NOT take the place of an Obstetrician or a Midwife as your care provider. They provide information, support, and resources to mothers during pregnancy and continuous emotional/moral support and comfort measures during labor. They can help you prepare for your birth, write your birth plan, and can be a valuable resource for helping you achieve your preferred outcome. They often will provide breastfeeding support immediately after birth, and a follow-up meeting after your birth so that you can discuss the details of your birth and process mentally and emotionally this life-changing experience. We at Northshore Birth Options highly recommend hiring a professional doula, or alternatively having a knowledgeable family member or close friend as a support person who can be with you during the entirety of labor & birth, and is 100% on board with your birth plan.
I urge you to start off by reading Evidence Based Birth's article on the Evidence for Doulas, linked here. I could not begin to do justice to the work already done here so I will simply supply the link!
So, now that you are familiar with WHY having a doula can be beneficial, let's explore how you should go about acquiring such glorious labor support.
First off, on our website you will find a list of area doulas. This list is NOT exhaustive, and does not constitute an endorsement by Northshore Birth Options. But it is a great place to start! Another option is to ask around for friends who have used a doula.
Once you have a list going, explore their websites or social media pages, gather some info on what services they offer, how they were trained, which areas they service, etc. Jot down any questions that pop in your mind while you are exploring their business pages.
There are multiple doula training organizations, and a LOT of variety when it comes to what's available in the world of doulas. Some doulas have additional training in using a Rebozo, are placenta encapsulation specialists, offer postpartum doula care, do birth and newborn photography, make mom and baby products...the list is extensive. There is also a wide range of years of experience and number of births attended.
I suggest reducing your list to the top 3 or so, and set up a consult with each one in person. Most doulas offer a complimentary consultation. It's a good idea to meet with several doulas, because often the deciding factor is simply which one's personality best suits you!
On interview day, anticipate meeting with someone who is excited and passionate about birth. Most doulas really love what they do! Relax and enjoy the conversation. Have your list of questions handy to make sure that you cover all the things that were important to you.
Here are my suggestions for questions:
What interested you in being a doula?
Were you trained through a particular organization, and have you completed certification? (Jot down the name so you can look it up later.)
Do you have any additional training or certifications?
How many years of experience do you have?
How many births have you attended?
What types of births have you attended (natural, induced, VBAC, cesarean, etc.?)
What birth settings have you experienced? (home birth, birth center, hospital)
Is there a certain type of birth or location that you particularly enjoy?
Which areas do you service? (Northshore, NOLA, Baton Rouge.)
Other than birth doula support, are there any other services that you offer?
Are you available for random questions that might come up during pregnancy? How often can I contact you? In which ways may I contact you? (Phone/text/email/Facebook messenger).
Please describe what your doula services include.
What is your fee? (You may want to compare this with fees of other doulas, keep in mind level of training and experience).
If my labor exceeds a certain number of hours, will there be an additional fee?
What are your other commitments and likelihood that you may be unavailable around the time of my due date?
What arrangements will be made in the event that you are not available when I am in labor? (Refund, exchange, back-up doula, etc. If there is a back-up doula agreement, you may wish to meet the back-up doula as well.)
How do you incorporate my spouse or other support person?
I hope this has been helpful! Please comment or contact us if you have input or questions.
Special thanks to the Northshore Mothers who supplied real-life photos for this post!