Do the Doula: Things to Ask When Looking for the Right One

When I first found out I was pregnant back in December of 2013, I immediately knew that I wanted to have the most holistic and natural experience as I possibly could. That’s right; no medication, minimal medical intervention, soft music playing in the background and more. Originally, I wanted to do a water-birth at the birthing center in the hospital and then quickly changed my mind to a homebirth near the end of my pregnancy, (even though I ended up changing my mind and giving birth in the labor and delivery wing of the hospital). After all of the contemplating my options of how I would want my birthing experience, I was quick to realize that I needed some help, (expert help that is!).

One of the requirements of the birthing center was that I would have to hire a doula to guide me through my birth if I planned to do things the “all natural” way. Wait… what the heck is a doula again? Most people aren’t that familiar with the term, just like me when first coming across it. A “doula” sounds like someone who would cast spells and hand out potions during the birth, almost like a shaman or a healer of some kind. In reality, a doula is a certified birthing professional that is emotionally and physically supportive during and after labor, as well as very informative during pregnancy. Most doulas specialize in other areas to help mothers as well, such as lactation consulting, childbirth educating, cloth diapering, and more. Doulas hold a plethora of information and have so many resources to share with expectant mothers, (even if it is not a person’s first pregnancy).

I eagerly began to look for a doula and quickly found a website to aid in my search, DoulaMatch.net, (a search engine just to find birth and postpartum doulas, as well as childbirth classes in your area). I highly recommend this site to everyone considering hiring a doula. I searched in my area and behold, I found the perfect doula, (not only available during the time I was due, but also a lactation consultant, in my price range, and a cloth diapering expert). The next step was to meet her and make sure that she was a good fit. After all, doulas do see a few of your lady parts during the birthing process, so being comfortable is key. Of course after meeting with her, I knew that she was the right person to guide me during my birth; she was kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, and into doing everything holistic like I wanted. Cloth diapering and intactivism are both things that she fully supported as well. I had found my perfect person to aid me in my natural delivery of my son.

Of course, sometimes with birthing a baby, things do not go as planned, (I ended up having to have an emergency cesarean section, due to the baby showing signs of not getting enough oxygen). Even though I was unable to deliver naturally, my doula was there waiting for me after I came out of surgery, stayed until I got settled in my postpartum suite, and even was present to help get breastfeeding underway. In my time of panic due to my birthing situation, she was my source of positivity and light; always lending a supportive and guiding hand and giving me the reliable information to make the decisions I felt were best for my family. Even during my pregnancy she was amazing. She was emotionally supportive when those in my family weren’t. She even made a postpartum visit to my house a few weeks after the birth to make sure breastfeeding was going alright. Always caring and thoughtful, she was a friend I could always rely on.

Getting back to the meet and greet/interview process when my doula, Meg, and I first met: this was so important when seeing if she was the right doula for me. I recommend anyone that is considering hiring a doula to complete an interview prior to making any financial commitment to them. Below are a few questions that you should ask during the interview, (not in any particular order).

  1. What are your qualifications? Are you certified? How many births have you attended? What about your professional education?
  2. What kind of birthing experiences are you most familiar with, (natural, medicated, homebirth, water-birth, cesarean, etc.)?
  3. Are you available at the time around my expected due date, (i.e. Are you going to be in town the weeks prior or after my due date)?
  4. Can you assist me in writing a birth plan?
  5. What will happen during an emergency, (i.e. emergency cesarean section)? Will you stay after the birth?
  6. Do you offer any other services to the mother, such as lactation consulting, photographing mother and baby before, during or after labor and delivery, childbirth classes, cloth diapering help, etc.?
  7. How will you support me during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery, (i.e. positioning methods, essential oils, music, massage, hypnotherapy techniques, etc.)?
  8. What are your fees? Do you take payments in installments?

Remember, choose what’s right for you and your family. After all, doulas are there to not only support the mother, but the rest of her family during the pregnancy, labor, and delivery of your child. Of course, this is just a short list in helping find the doula that is the best match for you and your family. For more information on doulas, please visit DONA International. Whether you are considering a natural birth or not, do the doula! Trust me; having the support is worth it.

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