A Guide to Finding Your Doula
Building a labor support team is part of conscious preparation during pregnancy for your labor, birth and life with the very newborn. Hiring a labor doula continues to gain in popularity for the expecting family. Your doula comes alongside you in pregnancy through labor and delivery with some additional early postpartum follow-up. For additional after birth support, a postpartum doula is a great addition.
Step 1: Finding a Doula
- Inquire with friends, family, local support/informational groups (for example – ICAN, LLLI, Birth Network, Birth Circle, Cloth Diaper store), childbirth educators, care providers, prenatal massage therapists, prenatal exercise instructors, lactation experts and chiropractors for referrals.
- Use your favorite search engine and type in your city or area name with the keyword doula
- Search training and certifying organizations such as CAPPA, DONA, ICEA, ToLabor , Birth Works and Birth Arts International
- Search general doula sites such as All Doulas, Doulas.com, About.com, Doula Match or Doula.com
Step 2: First Contact
Once you have located local area doulas, the next step is to make contact. You will likely find that most doulas are women though occasionally you will find a male doula in your area. After visiting any websites; phone or email only the doulas that most interest you and fit your particular needs. Generally there is not much need to contact more than three perspective doulas.
During your initial phone conversation or in your email be sure to include:
- Full name
- Contact information
- Estimated Due Date
- General location where you live
- Care Provider
- Birth Location
- Top needs and desires for birth
- If referred, by whom
- Any financial considerations
Step 3: Setting up the Interview
I encourage after the phone or email contact and response, set-up in-person interviews with the doulas you found most compatible with you.
- Unless the doula you are meeting has her own office, interviews are usually held in a public place such as a coffee house, restaurant, library, park, or shopping center. If you meet at a place where beverages or food will be ordered you can offer to pick up the tab for everyone if you desire, but it is never expected.
- Your partner, husband or other support who will be attending the birth needs to be at in-person interview if at all possible.
- Expect the interview to be approximately an hour and to be free of charge.
Step 4: The Interview
The interview is to gain more detailed information from the doula, as well as, share more about yourself and what you want. It is customary for the doula to either email ahead of time her client packet or bring it with her to the interview. It may include her professional profile, client agreement, services, and support details, as well as, additional offerings.
Suggested Interview Questions:
- Why are you a doula?
- What is your philosophy of childbirth?
- Where did you get your training?
- Are you certified? Why or why not?
- How long have you been a doula?
- What is your scope of practice?
- What types of births have you participated in?
- What types of birth locations have you been to?
- How many births per month on average do you attend?
- How many clients would max you out in a month?
- Have you ever missed a birth? Please explain why.
- Do you specialize in working with a specific type of clientele or birth plan?
- What has been the most challenging birth you have attended? Why?
- How do you work with my husband/partner/other support?
- Have you worked with my provider before? If yes, please describe the experience.
- How many prenatal visits would there be?
- In general, what is covered in the prenatal visits?
- Will you help me make a birth plan?
- Please explain how your fee is structured.
- Do you accept barter?
- Do you have a back-up and do I meet her ahead of time?
- When do you go on-call?
- Do you labor at home with me?
- What do you do if I am induced or need to schedule a cesarean?
- When will you see me postpartum and what does it include?
- What are your expectations of me as a client?
- How long do I have to decide before you would contract with someone else around my EDD?
Of course that is a fairly long list of overview questions. Brainstorm some of your own. The interview is not meant to be a free prenatal visit, it is simply to find out if you and the doula are a fit personality wise and in how she practices. Most doulas do not expect to be hired on the spot. You need time to think and process after each interview. If a doula is pressuring you to hire on the spot because she fills so quickly, that could be a red flag and cause for you to take a pause.
Step 5: Hiring the Doula
Within 1-2 weeks, contact the doula you would like to hire and proceed and those you did not choose to let them know you have hired someone else so they will not be holding your EDD space open any longer.
Details to be clear about when initially hiring your doula:
- Sign and return the agreement/contract she gave you at the interview (if applicable).
- Return any intake paperwork by mail or email.
- Payment – First portion of fee is usually paid upon hiring a doula.
- Ask her usual business hours and contact preference for non-emergencies or labor related needs.
- Let her know your contact preferences and all phone numbers to reach you and your spouse/partner or other support.
- Set the date and time for the first prenatal appointment. Give her directions if your home is not easy to find.
- Get clarity on what routine contact she would like from you (updates after care provider appointments, etc.)