Many moms to be are turning to doulas as a crucial component of their birthing plans.
A birth doula is essentially a birth support worker who provides constant physical, emotional, and mental support just before, during, and just after labour. Postpartum doulas provide the same support, but for after your baby is born.
Unlike a midwife, doulas do not provide any medical support. They are there just for your (and your partner’s!) well-being. In addition, unlike medical professionals who may come and go during shift changes at a birth, your doula is a constant – they are with you from start to finish. (Yes, they may need a break to take a quick nap and for a snack, but that’s about it)! This makes them an invaluable source of comfort, level headedness, and calm during the unpredictability of a birth.
So if you are looking to hire a doula for your birth, what kinds of questions should you ask them?
It’s important that you feel good about the doula that will be with you for your birth. We’ve put together some questions to ask your doula during that first meet-and-greet, to determine if you are indeed a good fit for one another. Read on to find out more!
Why did you become a doula?
One of the first things you will want to ask is why your doula decided to become one.
Being a doula is often physically and emotionally demanding, requiring long hours, unending patience, and calm in the face of even the most stressful situations. This is not a profession one enters into lightly, and not without having a deep love for helping mamas bring their bundles of joy into the world. Asking this will give you the chance to see what your potential doula’s motivations are and whether their heart is in the right place.
How much training have you had?
You will also want to know how much training and experience your future doula has.
Doulas undergo extensive training to be able to handle anything that gets thrown at them (quite possibly literally!) during labour. Your doula should have attended at least three births prior to yours in order to receive certification, and they should be very comfortable with all their duties, responsibilities, and methods. Don’t be afraid to ask for references if you’d feel better speaking to other mamas who have used your doula’s services.
Are you a birth doula, postpartum doula, or both?
Doulas come in a variety of different specializations, so you’ll want to know which category your doula might fall into.
A birth doula focuses specifically on labour and the birthing process, being there all the way from your water breaking through to delivery. A postnatal doula would come into the picture just after birth, helping new mamas with breastfeeding, baby-wearing, basic care of their new baby, and will even usually do some laundry and prepare some light meals while they’re there! Then there are doulas that offer both birth doula and postpartum doula services, and will be with you from pre-labour through to whenever you feel comfortable without them after giving birth.
What birthing locations have you practiced in?
Moms give birth in a variety of different locations, and some doulas will be more comfortable in one setting than another.
Some women give birth in hospital, some give birth at home or at a birth centre, and many others give birth in places somewhere in between. Based on what you are planning for your labour, you will want to know if your potential doula feels comfortable in that environment. If you plan on giving birth in hospital but your doula doesn’t have much experience or doesn’t feel comfortable in that setting, you might not be a great match for each other.
What are your on-call hours?
Labour can strike at any time of the day or night, so you will want to know that your doula will be available when it happens.
Most doulas will understand this and offer 24/7 availability around the weeks near your scheduled due date. However, this is definitely something you will want to clarify straight off the bat so that you’re not left in the lurch should your little one come knocking at 2am on a Sunday.
How would you describe your doula “style”?
Different doulas will have different “styles”, so you’ll want to know whether your doula’s way of doing things meshes with your own.
Does your doula prefer a calm and gentle approach to everything? Or are they more of a “take charge of the situation” kind of doula? Perhaps they are somewhere in between the two? Be sure to ask this question and also to be honest with yourself about what kind of style will actually help you the most during labour.
What is your schedule like around my due date?
Obviously one of the most important things to ask your doula is whether they have many clients around your due date.
Doulas often have several clients at one time, meaning there is a possibility they have a client that is due around the same time as you. You will definitely want to know if that is the case, and if it is, what the likelihood of your doula not being able to attend your birth due to another client might be.
What happens if you are unavailable when I go into labour?
Related to the previous question, you will also want to ask what plan B would be should your doula be unable to attend your birth.
If, for whatever reason, your doula is unavailable for your labour, you will want to ask what the backup plan is. Many doulas will have partnerships with other doulas in the area that can help in the event of a double booking. If your doula suggests this option, you might also want to ask about meeting the backup doula just in case.
Do you have the same beliefs and wishes when it comes to child birth?
Being on the same page with your doula regarding the kind of experience you wish for your child birth is crucial in having a positive experience.
Some moms want a hospital birth with an epidural immediately. Some moms want to have an at home water birth. Whatever you desire for your birthing journey, you should ensure your doula is fully committed and on board with your plans. The last thing you want during labour is to feel frustrated with a lack of team cohesion, so ensure you double check with your doula they’re ok with the plan.
Do you feel like you will be comfortable with your doula?
The final thing you’ll want to know if whether you feel genuinely comfortable with your doula.
This is more of a question for yourself than your doula, as it will depend on what kind of sense you got from them during the appointment. Did you feel very natural and easy when you were speaking? Or did it feel forced and uncomfortable? Did they ask questions and show interest in your specific needs and wants? Taking stock of these feelings and making a judgement call on them will ensure you pick the right doula for you and put you on the path to a happy and joyous birthing experience.
Do you have any other questions for doulas you would recommend for upcoming moms to be? Let us know in the comments below!