You’ve talked to your friends. Googled. Read the research. Checked in with your care provider. You’re ready to hire a doula. Awesome! Now what?! How do you find the right doula (or doulas!!) for you?
We recommend taking the information you’ve gathered and start sorting through the websites of local doulas. Different doulas have varying levels of training, experience, and specialties. Many communities offer “meet the doulas” events where you can get questions answered, get a sense of the different choices you have for services, and get a sense of what type of doula is a good fit for you (check out our events here in Madison, WI through MDC). If your community doesn’t currently have these events, skip ahead to the Second Step.
Okay, now you know what doulas are practicing in your area, better understand what a doula does, and have narrowed your choices down to a few doulas whom you’d like to get to know better. Go ahead and send them an email! Most doulas are very open to a (no obligation) meeting to get to spend some individual time together and answer any further questions. If you’re not even sure where to start with questions, have no fear! Read on to see our list of some common and important questions to ask when sitting down with potential doulas.
What do doulas do?
You may have gotten this question answered in your research or a meet the doulas event. However, hearing the words right from each doula gives a really clear sense as to what parts of the work they value. You’ll know it’s a good fit if you find yourself nodding along to the answers.
How do doulas work with partners? Medical staff? Other family members?
A doula can never replace a partner or any member of the medical staff. It can be challenging as the expectant parents to understand how everyone works together. It is key to know that your doula is comfortable working with your individual family’s needs and that they genuinely believe in supporting the whole team.
What is the doula’s philosophy about birth?
Everyone comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting with their own story. It is so important to feel like you can share your life and your decisions in a way that is safe, supported, and respected (oxytocin anyone?!). Getting a sense of your doula’s foundation really does build the rest of the relationship on solid ground.
Do doulas only support “natural” or unmedicated birth?
It’s a common misperception that doulas only support a certain set of choices surrounding childbirth. Most folks don’t like to feel judged at any time in their life, and certainly not during pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Finding a doula that can offer your family support without judgement is a critical piece of a trusted relationship.
How does the doula’s business work?
It’s important to know what support your support system has in place. Your doula is only as valuable as the professionals and backups that they have surrounding them. Make sure you’re comfortable with the systems that your doula has in place, from contract to backup to referrals to staying on top of emails and paperwork, so that there are no surprises.
What is the doula’s favorite book or vacation or animal? Most embarrassing moment? Best meal they’ve ever eaten?
We think you get the idea here. The doula-client relationship is special and you want to feel like you really trust them, or as we say, have a “vibe-y-ness” together. It can be hard to put words to that feeling you get when you just know you like someone. It’s all about attachment, and as mammals we need that safe, comfortable, cozy feeling to give birth and bond (yet another nod to our friend, oxytocin).
What are the next steps in hiring your doula?
Usually the next step after a couple of interviews is deciding which doula feels like the right doula for you! Lots of different factors can go into this decision, but we find it most often comes down to that feeling of “vibe-y-ness”…which doula do you feel really comfortable with? Make sure you understand the timeline for hire, as most doulas are constantly interviewing and being hired and you wouldn’t want to miss out on your best fit because their schedule filled up for your estimated due date.
After you’ve decided which doula is right for you, hire your doula! Doulas love those emails and phone calls and are genuinely excited to join your team (we definitely do a dorky happy dance)! Once you let your doula know, you’ll formalize the relationship by paying a retainer and signing some sort of agreement or contract that outlines the expectations for both parties. Congratulations on rounding out your support team!