You've decided you want to hire a doula for your birth. What all do you need to do to make that happen and have the best experience possible?
Hiring a doula isn't rocket science, but there are tips and tricks that will help you find someone who is skilled and a good match for your personality and needs. As part of our celebration of International Doula Month, we've provided helpful information to use when finding and hiring a doula.
Find Doulas in Your Area
There are a few different ways to find doulas in your area:
Referrals - Talk to your friends, family, childbirth class teacher, OB or midwife, or local prenatal stores/businesses to find names of doulas in your area.
Search - Google doula + name of your town/county to find doulas near you. Use DoulaMatch.net for a more refined search of doulas in your area (you can search by availability for your due date and specific skills). If your area has a birth network, you will likely find a list of practicing doulas on their website.
Narrow Down Your List
If your area is saturated with doulas, you'll want to narrow down your list of people to call to make the interview process more effective and manageable. Determine your top priorities. Things like years of experience, certification, price, specialty skills, and philosophy/approach are important to consider when searching online and identifying potential doulas. You may live in an area where doulas are scarce and you don't have the luxury of narrowing down your list. In that case, skip this step and schedule an interview with the ones that serve your area.
Start making calls! An email or text is fine, but a phone call allows you to pre-screen a doula before an in-person interview. On your phone call, ask open-ended questions like, "tell me a little about how you like to work with your clients" or "what's your favorite thing about being a doula?" Most doulas offer a free, in-person interview at a public location like a coffee shop or in your home, if desired.
During an interview with a doula, you will be able to get a feel for the doula's personality, style, and approach, as well as ask pointed questions about her services and experience. Some great doula interview questions include:
- What is your philosophy about birth?
- What kind of training and certifications do you have?
- How do you stay current in your field?
- How long have you been practicing and how many families have you served?
- Are there practices you do not readily or happily support during labor/birth, like epidural, cesarean, induction?
- How do you involve/include my partner during labor and birth?
- What's your relationship like with care providers and hospital staff?
- Do you work solo or with another doula(s)? What's your back up arrangement?
- How many prenatal meetings and postpartum visits do you provide?
- Are you available to call at all times?
If you interview more than one or two doulas, be sure to take notes during the interview, paying attention to what you like or don't like as well as your gut feeling about the doula. These notes will help you later on when you need to make a decision.
Depending on your most important priorities and your in-person interview experience, you will likely come to a decision about a doula fairly quickly and simply. Be sure to talk to your partner (if applicable) about their thoughts and feelings, too. If you're having a difficult time and need a tie-breaking method, write out a pros and cons list. Then, check in with your gut feeling. Finally, get your partner's opinion. The three combined should point you in the direction of the perfect doula for you. Once you decide, contact your chosen doula to arrange placing an initial deposit of her fee to secure your spot and schedule your first prenatal appointment.
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