How To Hire A Doula

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: doula, How to Hire a Doula | Tags: , , |

*If you have previously hired a doula, please be sure to share how you did it in the comments section!

When you are bringing in another person to your birth and you are paying them to attend it, you need to make sure that it’s the right person. You should interview a doula just like you would interview someone to babysit your child, build your house, deliver your baby (YES, you should interview your OB or MW!). I think before you ever interview a doula, you need to interview yourself a little though.

Before meeting with a doula you should sit down and answer the following questions…

  • What kind of birth experience am I looking for?
  • Why do I want a doula?
  • Why do I need a doula?
  • What do I expect from a doula?
  • Do I want a doula to advocate for me to the staff?
  • Do I want a doula to help me stick to my birthplan?
  • Do I want a doula to help my partner be more involved in the birth?
  • Do I want a doula to be the main support person during my labor or in the background?
  • What do I need from my doula before the labor begins?
  • Do I need a postpartum doula or postpartum help?

The answers to these questions are the base for what your philosophy of birth is. Do you feel as if birth is a means for getting a baby out and it doesn’t matter how that happens? Do you feel like birth is something that should be experienced and you want to experience it in full? Are you attempting a VBAC and feel as if you need extra support to ensure success? Do you want a natural birth or a medicated birth? Do you want an intervention free birth? Doulas can be valuable in all of these situations but in finding the right doula for your job, you should have an idea of where you stand on these things. Knowing your own philosophy of birth will help you find a doula who has a similar philosophy.

Once you actually meet a doula, here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How do you feel about natural birth?
  • How do you feel about medicated birth?
  • How do you envision your role in my birth?
  • Would you be willing to be in the background letting my partner be my main support person?
  • Will you be my main support person if my partner gets nervous about everything?
  • Can you help my partner better support my by showing him/her ways to help me?
  • What are some of the comfort measure techniques that you use (i.e. massage, guided imagery, hypnosis, breathing, Rebozo, etc)?
  • What kind of training have you had?
  • How many births have you attended?
  • Do you have a back up doula and may I meet her?
  • Why did you become a doula?

If you are a second (third, fourth, etc) time mom, you may have very specific questions based on how your last birth experiences went. Some may include…

  • What is your comfort level with VBAC and how many have you attended?
  • I prefer a very low intervention birth and require advocacy to the staff, can you do that?
  • I prefer to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital, can you help me do this?
  • I prefer my labor room to be as peaceful and quiet as possible with no unnecessary staff interruptions, can you help me achieve this?
  • My first labor was ___________ and I know that in my next labor I will need ______________, will you help me do this? ย  ย  ย  (for me i would say, my first labor was very long and I know that I will need a lot of encouragement if this one is very long also. I will need someone to stay strong and positive and upbeat and to encourage me to change positions frequently and remind me to eat and drink. I will also need for someone to be on the look out for signs of fetal malpositioning and to help me find ways to correct it).

The main thing to remember when selecting a doula is that you want to hire someone who will support whatever it is you want at all times rather than someone who has their own idea of how (your) birth should go. You want someone strong that can help you stay with your birth plan and communicate to the staff but that can also step back at the right time too. Hire someone that can help create a peaceful labor environment and provide the right words and comfort measures as needed. I always say trust your instinct. If in doubt don’t but at the same time if you find the ‘perfect’ person, go for it!

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14 Responses to “How To Hire A Doula”

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THANK YOU for this post! I am hoping for a vbac with my next baby and am hoping to hire a doula for the birth. I honestly had no idea where to begin or what to look for or what kinds of questions to ask. Your post definitely has me started in the right direction =)

You’re welcome! Good luck with the VBAC when the time comes!

Awesome post! I am interviewing a doula this evening for my VBAC – wish me luck and thanks for the pointers!

Let me know how it goes!

Thanks for the tips! I interviewed my potential doula when I was 20 weeks along and decided to hire her – we seem to be a good match. She has a passion for natural birth, is DONA trained, has attended 89 births (including 40 with my OB), and has had VBAC clients, and will be my advocate to the staff. I brought along your list of ?s on my phone and referred to it as necessary. Thanks for the resource!

Great! I am glad it went well and that you liked her. That’s pretty amazing that nearly half her business has been with your doc.

Both she and the midwife at the Renaissance center said he is the best doctor around when it comes to natural birth and VBAC – thus, she sends him a lot of referrals (their referral was also what prompted me to change docs).

Clarification – I’d already decided to change docs, but their recommendation made me decide to check this particular doctor out. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. You would still be my first choice for doula (duh) if you weren’t expecting yourself! ๐Ÿ™‚ Waaaaaaa…..

This is a great post! I just recommended it to be stickied on the BabyCenter VBAC board. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh good, thanks! I am glad you think it’s good info ๐Ÿ™‚

Any tips for an aspiring doula?!

Hi Michelle,
You are the third person to ask me this in as many weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ I will get a post up on it ASAP.

It was suggested that when someone is interviewing a doula that they should ask about experience. As a new doula I was wondering if you have any suggestions of how to convey that my lack of experience won’t be a hinderence? After recently giving birth to my first child I realise how valuable a doula can be. A doula can’t be her own… I wish I had of realised this before I went into labour.

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