By Anjelica, MSM, CPM, CLEC, LM.
If you’re like many new mothers, as soon as you get that positive pregnancy test, you begin researching everything needed to have the most informed pregnancy and birth experience possible. You may have even been told stories from family or friends about how they wish they had just known “X”, before giving birth, so you were sure to delve deep into that topic.
I would venture to guess that after hours of traveling down the new-parent rabbit hole, you emerged with a list of books, documentaries, must-have maternity supplies, the latest and greatest recommendations in supplements, and a list of terms to look up, which likely included the word “doula”.
Quite simply, a doula is a birth companion with special training in assisting a mother and her family emotionally, physically, and educationally during birth and/or postpartum. Doulas support mothers who give birth at home, at a birth center, and at a hospital. Doulas aren’t medical providers and don’t offer any clinical advice, but their continuous labor support is great at improving the likelihood of someone having a vaginal birth, decreasing the likelihood that an epidural is used, and even minimizing the chance of a mother experiencing postpartum depression (Cite: Doulas, 2022).
If you’ve found the evidence on doulas convincing and would like to have one to support you during your birth, it’s a good idea to interview a few in your early second trimester to find the right fit for you.
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE INTERVIEW PROCESS
How many clients do you take per month?
The number of births they’ve booked for a particular month may impact their availability to show up at your birth when you need them. Considering the distance between those due around the same time is also important to discuss.
Do you have a backup doula or work as a part of a collective?
It can be helpful to know if they have someone else in line to step in if they were to be at another birth, become sick, or have a family emergency when you need them in labor.
Have you worked with the doctor/midwife I’ll be delivering with?
Doulas who’ve worked with your particular doctor/midwife may have insight into their common practices and tendencies, such as scheduling an induction, rushing the pushing stage, or supporting delayed cord clamping.
Have you attended a birth at the hospital or birth center I will be birthing at?
Similar to the question before, having a doula who’s previously worked with a mom in the place you plan to give birth means that they may be more familiar with that location’s nursing staff, options for eating in labor, willingness to support your wishes for birthing in different positions, acknowledging your birth plan, and encouraging the Golden Hour.
Do you have any specific skills that may help me in labor? (Acupuncture, massage, craniosacral, robozo, etc.)
Hiring a doula who is also trained in another modality means that you get two skills for the price of one, and the two can be combined in supporting you. This isn’t a must, but can be a perk.
When do you typically arrive at the birth and when do you leave?
It’s important that your expectations for birth support match what the doula is planning to offer you.
Do you offer a sliding-scale, payment plan, or take HSA?
As you may have noticed, the cost of doula services can range from free to $2000+. It’s almost always possible to find a doula within a price range that works for you or who works with a local hospital or organization, which makes them more affordable.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A DOULA?
There are multiple ways to find some. First, ask your midwife, doctor, or a friend who’s recently given birth, if they have a list of recommendations. Next, here are a few places to look: