Looking for a doula? Here's some tips!
We think there are many benefits to having a doula.
Some studies have shown that women who employ a doula have shorter labors, are less likely to need a C-section, request less pain medication, and have a more positive childbirth experience.
We note that services doulas offer and the price they charge can be highly variable. Their credentials and experience is also variable.
Here is what you need to know if you are looking for a doula.
When to look for a doula?
Our suggestion is to start looking early and have a chosen doula in place by 28 weeks gestation.
It takes time to build a relationship, explore and learn about birth options and get the information you need to make the best decisions for you
What kind of a doula would you need?
Generally, there are three types of doulas: antepartum, birth, and postpartum doulas. Some doulas may assist with all three periods, while others are specific to one.
Antepartum: This is a doula that will meet with you early on during the pregnancy.
They will help you develop a birth plan, help you understand labor and delivery procedures and possible complications, and will teach you relaxation and breathing skills.
They will tell you about nutrition and help you get connected to courses, classes, and resources you will need for the rest of the pregnancy and beyond.
Birth Doula: A birth doula may be present for parts or even entirety of your labor.
They will help provide you constantly to provide comfort and support, will help you get into comfortable positions, use massage, and touch to help you relax.
During birth, a doula will help communicate with medical staff, assess you with nutrition and hydration, and even involve and reassure your partner.
Postpartum: Postpartum doula would be present after the baby is born.
They will provide support and encouragement to both you and your partner after you bring the baby home. They will teach you how to care for the new baby and may assist with breastfeeding education.
A postpartum doula may support your partner and even other siblings and teach them how to help you and may help run small errands while you recover.
Where to find a doula?
First, you are likely going to want to interview at least several doulas and see if their services are a match for you, your needs, and your budget. There are several places you can find doulas:
Friend referrals may be the first place you start (if you trust your friend).
The second place is to look at online networks as a most doula have at least some online presence. Here are some networks that will allow you to find a doula based on your location:
What to look for in a doula?
Doulas are there for your comfort. They will form a relationship with you and help you through the most vulnerable and sacred time.
As such, it’s important to find someone with who you are compatible. Trust your gut, their energy, and the person they are when you interview them. Soft skills are crucially important to what a doula will do for you.
Otherwise, you may want someone with experience and someone who has gone through standardized training. A certified doula has attended an intensive workshop, a childbirth preparation series, and three births where the health care provider evaluated them.
There are several certifying organizations, and it’s probably a good idea to look for some certification in your doula as it assures a doula has met at least a minimum standard in understanding general techniques and the process of birth.
DONA International and the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association are examples of certifying agencies.