You know how much I love doulas... I think they are just about the COOLEST people on earth. A doula takes the best part of a superhero and the best part of a best friend and makes something twice as good as both.
So how do you choose someone who will come into your house, share in one of the most important days of your life, see you vulnerable and nude, and possibly lay hands on you? Selecting a doula is easy, but it isn't simple.
Research First: Do the doulas in your town have regularly scheduled meet and greets? My guess is that they do, because they want to meet you just as much as you want to meet them. Find a time when you can attend a gathering, or do some research online. If you attend prenatal yoga, you might be able to ask about who the other participants are using, have interviewed, or think about birth support.
Keep Your Mind Open: You might have a very concrete sense of what you want for your birth (you can read my opinion about birth plans), but what is more important than the "plan" are the values. If you are strongly interested in one manner of birth, it is important that your doula supports you. However, your doula may be able to offer you more guidance than you thought you needed, if you keep your mind open to additional information and opinions. Listen to what they offer and most importantly why they provide the services they do. This is why...
You Must Meet and Interview THREE: Some doulas have gorgeous websites, lovely photos, and lists of helpful resources. Some have a modest online presence. Some aren't online at all. Regardless of how much you like someone's persona on the interwebs, you're not birthing your baby there, so meet them in person.
Trust your GUT: You know what they say about mother's intuition? Let yourself try some on. If all the signs point 'yes' but your stomach or your heart say 'no' then listen to yourself. The doula will not be personally offended if they are not selected, because they know they are likely to be one in three that you're choosing from. This is part of the business.
Look Early, Book Early: If you think you'll want to use the services of a doula, start researching early (like immediately, if you're already pregnant). Once you find the one you want, book early. A doula can only attend one birth at a time, so be aware that a great doula might have a very full calendar. Understand their rates and guarantees in terms of availability and make the right choice for you.
Back up: Doulas, superhumans that they are, can get sick. They can experience a death in the family, or wind up with two mamas in labor at the same time no matter how well everything else is planned. Ask your prospective doula(s) what they do when they're not able to attend a birth and how they will offer support, or who they will send instead.
What else did you do when selecting your doula? Were there questions you wish you would have asked?
Not sure you need a doula? Try To Doula or Not To Doula
I work in a labor doula practice. Learn more about what we do.
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this process with you. You're stronger than you think you are.