How to select the doula for you
By: Destiny S. Olsen CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), RYT, TPYT
What is a doula?
Doulas are involved in the pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum processes for expectant families. They provide educational, physical, and emotional support for anything that may arise during your journey. Here is a how-to-guide for selecting a doula not only for you, but also for your growing family.
When to hire your doula
Choosing your doula can seem overwhelming, so start looking early to allow the process to be pleasant and enjoyable. If booked in advance, you can utilize the depth of their knowledge and services, gain access to their network for your needs during pregnancy, and have extra time to get to know one another. If the search for a doula doesn’t come until later in your pregnancy, no need to worry, there are always doulas available to ensure you have support. Keep in mind; your dream doula may be booked far in advance, so start your search early to ensure the perfect fit.
What kind of support are you looking for?
To begin, write a list of what’s important to you and your family for pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum transition. Your personal needs and desires will determine which doula fits best for a pleasant and enjoyable experience.
Start by asking friends, family, and people amongst your social circles if they’ve had any experiences with doulas in the past. Loved ones know you best, and can provide you with information you may not have considered to help you find the perfect match.
If you’ve already selected a care provider, ask them for referrals. Although OBGYNs and Midwives don’t work directly alongside doulas, as families independently contract doulas, it is important for your birth-working professionals to have a good report. The healthy cooperation of your support team will further your birth experience.
Where to look
Look for local and national doula members through organizations who have experience, and who have built a reputation. Most of these organizations require a fee, and it is important to research what else it entails to become a member of the organization. Some features to look out for are a code of ethics, standards of practice, and accountability for unsatisfactory services. Groups like the Utah Doula Association provide community support and education to doulas. Other organizations–including DONA International, CAPPA or ICEA–require current continuing education, as well as, care provider and client reviews to maintain membership.
Is this a good fit?
Additionally, you can look up Doula business websites to read their biographies, photographs a research more about them. Find business social media pages to read reviews from previous clients, and write down any further questions you may have for them.
Once you gather a list of doulas that you like, start with the interview process. Most doulas are available for a FREE interview to get acquainted with one another, this typically lasts 30-60 minutes.
Here are some questions to consider when interviewing your doula:
- What got you interested in the doula profession?
- What is your doula philosophy?
- Have you ever had clients with similar age, life experiences, birth desires as me?
- Where did you receive you education for doula work?
- What was your process to receive your training and/or certification?
- Can you provide evidence of your credentials if desired?
- Was there any hands on training with your education?
- Are you part of any alternate organizations pertaining to doula work? If so, what?
- What does your contract look like? Can you show me a copy and walk me through it?
- What is your availability surrounding my due date (trips planned, other clients due, untreatable obligations)?
- Are there times you will be unavailable? If so when?
- How close do you live to me?
- What do you do if you can’t attend my birth? Do you provide a backup?
- Do you have any time restrictions if I have a lengthy labor? If so, what are the details?
- What do you charge?
- What services are included with your doula pricing/packages?
- What type of payments do you take? What is the timing of those payments?
- Do you offer any additional services outside of your doula service (I.e. Prenatal yoga, placenta encapsulation, belly binding)?
After holding interviews, discuss as a family how each doula could serve you during this time. As you cross compare, know that for every family, there is a perfect doula – you don’t have to settle for anything less than extraordinary! This process should be thorough, but enjoyable, and you will be able to rest easy knowing that your birthing experiences, and your new baby’s journey, are in good hands.
Destiny S. Olsen CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), RYT, TPYT is the proud owner of SHAUNTEA, a company focused on individualized health and wellness. She has taught Somatics since 2005 through yoga, dance and meditation. As a DONA certified birth and postpartum doula she believes developing mental and physical health throughout the childbearing year is essential to creating well-balanced children, happier parents and a overall healthier lifestyle.
I’m a Doula and would love to answer two of the questions Destiny lists above. Thanks for such a thorough and thoughtful article, Destiny! First, what is my Doula philosophy. I have considered this question often over the past 3 years, since I became a doula. Ultimatey, I have a desire to support intentional, deliberate parents. Having a baby is a huge life event and thus deserves preparation, thought, and education. I love supporting parents that want to learn what choices they have, so they can make the best possible decisions for their birth. This intentionality and desire to gain knowledge really speaks to me. I have zero personal agenda, other than to fully serve my clients as they work to achieve the birth THEY desire.
The second question is where did I receive my Doula education. First, I have a Bachelors degree from Brigham Young University, where I majored in Marriage, Family, & Human Development. Little did I know just how applicable this education would be for my future career path. I have also trained and certified with both DONA International and The Curtis Method Hypnobirthing (Lauralyn Curtis). Both organizations have helped me to develop skills and put them to use. I continue to learn by immersing myself in the birth world: seminars, books, podcasts, articles, etc. In addition, I am currently in the certification process to become an ICEA Childbirth Educator. Teaching is a passion of mine and I’m so excited for this new adventure!
I like that you talked about how you can start finding the best doula by asking friends, family, and people amongst your social circles for a recommendation of a doula that they may have hired before. My sister is 4 months pregnant and interested in the natural birthing process. It’s important for her to find a doula that can guide her when she starts to labor to get a strong support. It will make sense for her to choose a doula that the people she knows trust to have the confidence that she’ll have a great and positive experience with the doula. I will make sure to share your blog with her.
Thank you for sharing and I hope she found the most perfect doula for her birthing experience !