When I first became pregnant with my second child Lily, I knew right away I needed help. My first delivery wasn't traumatic per say, but I left the hospital feeling completely overwhelmed, in excruciating pain, and with no one to help me...(I mean really help me care for myself, not come over and hold my baby.) My husband at the time had to return o work fairly quickly after we brought Lily home, and I had a 2 year old as well to take care of. I knew going into this one I wanted help during labor and delivery so that I could return home refreshed and ready to take charge of my household. I found this renewed spirit, and energy in using a doula!
What did my doula do for me? So much!!!!!!!! I was able to meet with her while I was pregnant a couple of times to strategize my upcoming birth. Those meetings gave me a chance to really learn more about her, how she would approach certain scenarios, how she may help me through challenges, her own thoughts on birthing processes and outcomes, and most importantly would she be available to me. But how did I know she was the right person to support me? During the interview process (and we interviewed quite a lot of people,) I looked at many factors including, cost, experience, personality and demeanor, but most importantly for me parenting experience. Parenting experience? Why?.......
Well, in my mind (at that time) I really needed someone who had done this before. Not only supported other women through labor, but also had given birth herself, at least once. This was important to me because I felt that despite the role of a doula is to offer NON-JUDGEMENTAL SUPPORT, I had met many doulas who did not possess the ability to do so. They had not experienced birth for themselves and lacked raw, primal understanding that comes from having gone through that process. I found that person!!!! During our interview I asked all of the same questions that I asked every other doula I had interviewed, but this time all of the pieces just fell into place. I felt very comfortable around her and started to relax more about the idea of having 2 kiddos under the age of 2.
So how do you know when you've met YOUR doula? Does she have experience? How may births has she attended? If you have special circumstances (no matter what they may be...) share those with her and ask if she has ever encountered this before. Does she have children of her own? If the answer is yes, how did she choose to birth her babies? Has she attended a cesarean birth? Most families do not plan a cesarean birth, but a really good doula will work with them to prepare them for the possibility....just in case it happens! Better to be prepared right? Does she have another job, or is being a doula her full time job? Most importantly, is this her job or a hobby? A professional doula will take on up to 4 births per month depending on her availability making birthing her full time gig, whereas a doula who practices this work as a hobby may take on a birth every few months. One is not better than the other, but one does have more experience. You must find what is more important to you!
As one of my recent, and most beloved clients stated so perfectly.....
"You hire a doula because you want support from an expert in the field of all things birth related. I wouldn't want to hire someone who dabbled!....And thats why we hired you Mary!"
So what your takeaways here? Interview doulas...thats right plural! More than one! If you can interview a group practice, do it! More bang for your buck here as you will see more than one provider and have the chance to really connect with them. When you find the doula you feel comfortable with, retain her immediately....as in, bring your checkbook to the interview and be prepared to put down a deposit to block off her time. Don't be afraid to ask her personal questions regarding her own experiences. She is going to witness one of the most intimate events of your life, its important friends!
And lastly, make sure she is someone who you feel comfortable with, like you have been friends for awhile despite the fact you may have just met. If you can be comfortable with her right away, your experience will be shaped far more differently than choosing a doula solely on cost analysis.
Good luck preggo mommas! May the birthing force be with you! And if you are feeling unsupported, needing advice, or someone to talk to, this doula momma is here for you!
(And we offer FREE hour long interviews!)