Hiring the Right Birth Doula for Your Family

Apr 10, 2020

Samantha LeGassick

Bold statement comin’ at ya…  Hiring a birth doula will almost always change your experience for the better.

There, I said it. 

Doulas are amazing! A birth doula is there to serve you, love on you, advocate for you, help your partner understand what on earth is going on, and keep your mind off pain and discomfort so you can stay in the zone and meet your little babe. 

Not sure you get what all the fuss is about? 

Here’s this- your doula’s one job is to provide continuous support throughout your labor and birth. She offers comfort, emotional support, suggestions for keeping labor moving forward peacefully, and advocacy for your family. A great doula can help you manage discomfort throughout labor and is someone you can look to for the gentle reassurance that you’re on the right track. 

In a word, having a doula with you can be WONDERFUL. 

And that’s not all. Statistically, the necessity for intervention, like pain medications and even cesarean delivery, is lower when a doula is present (read on for a link).

In my opinion, hiring a birth doula for some added support is a no-brainer. 

Have I convinced you? Excellent! Now, how on earth do you hire a doula?

Fantastic doulas aren’t hard to find. With more and more women interested in the fascinating world of birth work, a quick Google search for “Birth Doulas in your city” should get yield some great options. Another great resource is the Doula Organization of North America’s ‘Find a Doula’ search engine (read on for a link).

But how do you know which doula is the best one for you? 

Step One: Decide what you want

Determine what’s most important to you and your family. If you haven’t started thinking about what you want your birth to be like, there’s no time like the present. 

Most doulas will naturally want to help you achieve the birth you desire; however, deciding even just some of what you may want ahead of time will help you determine the best birth doula fit for your family. Need some help with the planning stage? I’ve got you. Download my free Guide to Creating Your Glance + Follow Birth Plan here

Step Two: Do some research

When you’ve got your birth plan (or at least an idea of what you’re looking for) down on paper, the next step is to check out who’s available in your area. 

I recommend starting with a website perusal. Many experienced doulas will share information about what they offer (birth packages, post-partum care, etc), as well as testimonials and reviews on their personal website or social channels. 

Quick caveat here: the absence of a wildly professional website or social media doesn’t mean the person you’ve found isn’t a great possibility. Many birth doulas are hired based entirely on word of mouth testimonials from families just like yours, so don’t be too quick to disqualify someone who hasn’t prioritized their web presence. You can always ask for a reference or two after you interview her IF you intend to hire her for your birth. 

Step Three: Set up a call 

When you’ve found someone you like, get in touch. I like a quick-connect before even setting up an interview. Asking for ten minutes to chat on the phone prior to scheduling your interview is completely fine and a great way to assess how you feel before committing to a longer conversation. 

During your call, take the time to get to know her. Ask a couple of questions about her experience or her favorite part of working with clients. Note the way you feel while listening to her discuss her experience and offer of support. If you want to continue on with her, great! If you don’t, you won’t have wasted one another’s time (and you won’t be left feeling discouraged). Be sure to be upfront if you don’t feel she is a good fit for your family. 

Remember: Her time is valuable. If you ask for ten minutes, show her you honor her by keeping the conversation within that boundary. Find yourselves chatting away and losing track of time? That’s a great sign you’d probably do well to meet her and chat in person! Thinking you’d rather not move forward with her, let her know. You don’t need to go into a ton of specifics, but don’t leave her hanging to avoid an awkward moment. Doulas are professionals who know they’re not right for everyone. 

Step Four: Set up an interview

Consider your location:

Getting together with your potential doula can be fun!  A public location like a coffee shop or restaurant is a great first meeting option.

It’s important to choose a place where you’ll be able to focus and speak somewhat openly so choose a location and time of day that will allow you to connect with your potential doula openly. 

Consider whether childcare for older kiddos (if applicable) would help you feel better able to focus on the interview space than if you have littles in tow. 

Get a feel for this person:

The doula’s personality, the alignment of your values and priorities surrounding birth, and an overall sense of connectedness are all important and will determine the level of support you’re able to receive from the person you hire. Consider how you feel when you’re with her. Does your partner feel at least somewhat comfortable (this can be vulnerable stuff, so some slack here may be required)? Do you get a sense that she cares about you as an individual? 

Come prepared: 

While chatting a bit can help you get an initial feel for the person in front of you, it is essential that you head into your interview feeling prepared to ask questions that will get you the answers you need. 

Here are some sample questions to get you started: 

  • Why did you become a doula?
  • I’ll be delivering at _________________ (insert name of hospital, birth center or at home). Have you supported anyone there before? If so, what was your experience like?
  • Do you have a backup doula? If so, is it possible to meet her? How often have you needed to call on your backup? 
  • How will you help my husband/partner feel supported and able to be involved in every aspect of our birth? 
  • What support for pain management have you found to be most beneficial?
  • What are your fees and what’s included with that rate?  

Ready for more questions? Grab my totally FREE download: Essential Questions to Ask Your Potential Doula. 

Remember: hiring the right doula for you comes down to how comfortable YOU feel and how assured you feel of her willingness to work with you throughout the process. 

If you’ve got a doula success story you’d like to share, I’m all ears! Let us know your favorite thing about your birth doula or the reason you’re most excited to hire a doula in the future.

Excited for you!

Sam

 

Quick note regarding certification:

Q: Do I need to find someone who is certified? Which type of certification is best? 

A: You can find someone certified if that’s important to you, but I don’t believe certification is something to get hung upon. Since doulas provide support and not medical intervention, certification simply is not required. However, certification as a doula represents guaranteed experience and classroom-based teaching that may prove valuable during your birth. 

Whether you decide to choose someone who holds a professional doula certification or not, what’s most important is that you feel the lines of communication between you are open. Feeling comfortable expressing your needs and desires to your doula will make all the difference in how supported you feel throughout your birth experience. Choose the doula who makes you feel most comfortable, even if her credentials haven’t quite reached Ph.D. status… 😉 

 

Interested in learning more? Check out Birthing Bravely, my online courses and my individualized coaching packages!

 

Sited Resources:

  • Doula Organization of North America’s ‘Find a Doula’ search engine. Click here to check out their offerings. 
  • Article from Evidence Based Birth – ‘Evidence On: Doulas‘ 

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