How to Choose the Right Doula for You
So you’ve decided to hire a doula - now what? As with anything, you don’t just go out and hire the first person you come across. You need to make sure there is a connection, and the services they offer align with what you need and want. Here is a list of the most important things to consider when choosing a doula. I would suggest meeting for a consult with at least three doulas where you can discuss the following plus anything else you want to know.
What services do they offer?
Does the doula offer the services that you want? Some doulas only do birth or postpartum work. Others offer a full spectrum of services, including prenatal care ONLY which is newer on the doula scene. You also want to look at what is included in each of the packages. Do they offer overnight support in the postpartum package? Do they offer placenta encapsulation? Do they have a birth photographer? These are a few of the services that might be offered by a doula. You will want to make a list of what you want, so you can check them off during the consultation. Sometimes you can do this beforehand by looking at their website or Facebook page. This could narrow down which doulas you meet for a consult.
Do your personalities match?
This might be the most important one – do your personalities jive? Is the doula funny, kind, quiet, loud, sarcastic, chatty, opinionated, sweet? Are they characteristics similar to, or complementary to your own? This works both ways – just as you’re trying to find someone that feels comfortable to you, the doula is looking for clients that feel comfortable to her as well. During your consult, do you click or do your personalities seem to clash? There’s no shame in turning down a doula because personalities clash. Everyone wants to have the best experience possible and this won’t happen if someone is uncomfortable or inhibited by the other person.
What are their Fees?
Also important, can you afford their services? You should find out the types of payment they accept and if you are able to pay in instalments, if this is a better option for you. Also ask when payment is to be made, so you’re not blind-sided after signing a contract. Depending on the services offered, doula fees can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If your personalities click, then look at the services offered compared to the cost and see if it’s what you want and can manage.
What is their birth work philosophy?
Do you have your own birth and/or postpartum philosophy you want to follow? If not, that’s OK, but you should certainly ask your doula if they have one. Not everyone will have a finely tuned philosophy, but they should be able to give you an idea of what guides their work. It will give you a better idea of how they can help you in your journey. Are they on board with interventions? Are they only interested in supporting home-births? Are they focused on giving you information and supporting your own decisions? Do your philosophies align? These are things you should know before having someone support you during birth or in your home. The role of a doula is to be supportive of all choices a parent makes, but everyone has a different approach to this, and that’s OK.
Are they available for your due date? Do they have a backup doula?
You definitely want to know if they are available for your due date. Will they be able to go on call without being away after you reach 37 weeks? If not, then they’re probably not the best choice. However, many doulas have a backup. You will want to ask if they have a backup option and if there are any additional charges.
What is their experience and do they have any references?
It might be important to you to know how much experience they have as a doula. You should note, this experience doesn’t always have to be specific to doula work but could have come from other types of work they’ve done such as teaching, running community support groups, and childcare work. You could also ask for testimonials or references from other clients they’ve supported. You might ask if they have any training and how they stay current on what is happening in the birth world. Do you feel confident in their knowledge and skills to be what you need?
That’s a solid list to get you started in your search for a doula. In the end, it might come down to a gut feeling that a certain doula is the one for you.