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doula Nov 05, 2021

Having a baby comes with many responsibilities and even more questions. Finding a doula is no different. But first, let’s talk about what a doula is, why you want one and how to go about choosing one. 

What is a doula?

According to Wikepedia, a doula is a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional and who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth, or non-reproductive experiences such as dying. I love how Dona defines what a doula is: a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.

Studies show that hiring a doula can be beneficial to not only the birthing mother, but also to her family. “Countless scientific trials examining doula care demonstrate remarkably improved physical and psychological outcomes for both mother and baby. Doulas have a positive impact on the well-being of the entire family (”. Doulas may offer educational support, comfort measures to help you cope with pain or discomfort, techniques to overcome fear, they can help you feel more confident, and remind you of your values when you feel scared, vulnerable or unsure. Just as it is important to understand what doulas do, it’s equally important to understand what doulas do not do: Doulas are NOT medical personnel, they do not administer medicine or prescriptions, they do not give medical advice or diagnosis, they do not perform vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring, they do not make decisions for a client, and they do not deliver babies.  

How much does a doula cost?

Doulas typically cost anywhere from $800-$2000. Some offer childbirth education courses and other specialized services (such as postpartum care or placenta encapsulation). The newer and less experienced a doula is, the less they charge. Hiring new doulas is beneficial because you allow them to gain more experience and exposure to births while remaining budget-friendly. But, don’t let the cost of a veteran doula deter you! Veteran doulas are worth the investment. Why? Veteran doulas have seen, heard and been exposed to many scenarios and they not only stay calm under such scenarios but they can also tell you multiple ways in which these scenarios have played out. And finally, you want to hire veteran doulas because they normally have a big network. They know and have probably worked with many OB GYNS, midwives, lactation consultants and more at various hospitals and birthing establishments. They know the language, the culture and can refer you to the right people at the right time!  

When do you hire a doula?

The most ideal time to hire a doula is early on in your pregnancy. The reason you want to start this search process early is because it allows you and your doula time to get to know each other. The better your doula knows you, the more she can support you and your values and help you better prepare for your birth. And, the more you trust her. More trust may mean less tension which could lead to a better birth outcome. 

How do you go about interviewing a doula?

For starters, let’s begin by asking your network of moms for doula referrals. Chances are, these mamas are on a social media platform where they can share their experiences and refer you to a local doula they loved working with. When searching for a doula, find some time (about 30-60 minutes) to meet-up over zoom or in-person in order to get to know each other. Not only are you interviewing your doula, they are also interviewing you to see if you’re a good fit as a client. The interview will allow you to get to know your doula, their values, their pricing, and how they handle various situations. Below are 27 questions to ask a prospective doula. 

27 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Doula:

  1. Are you a certified doula and if so, through which organization?
  2. Why did you become a doula?
  3. How many births have you attended?
  4. What are your values/beliefs regarding birth?
  5. How would you describe your style? Ie. soft spoken, motherly, coach-type, direct, etc.
  6. Are you available on this date: ______________?
  7. Do you have multiple clients due around the same time?  
  8. How much do you charge? Do you offer any packages?
  9. What if you’re not able to attend my birth?
  10. How much would you charge if you helped us prepare for the birth but couldn’t attend? 
  11. Do you have a back-up doula?
  12. How often has your back-up doula had to step into a birth?
  13. Have you been a doula at the hospital/birthing center I’m delivering at?
  14. What about home births; have you attended one before?
  15. If you’ve given birth, did you have a doula? If so, did you like having a doula?
  16. At what point in my labor should I call you?
  17. Are you ok with me calling you in the middle of the night and/or early morning?
  18. How should I contact you? Phone? Text? 
  19. Do you usually stay for the entire birth? When do you leave? 
  20. How do you feel about interventions? 
  21. What if there’s a complication or a cesarean; do you normally stay at the hospital or birthing center? If so, for how long? 
  22. How do you work with other birth workers; ie. OBGYNS, midwives, nurses? 
  23. Do you encourage your clients to practice comfort measures? 
  24. Do you offer any support for breastfeeding? 
  25. Do you do any meet-ups before and/or after birth?
  26. Do you offer postpartum care protocols?
  27. Is there anything else I need to know? 

Doulas are a vital part of the birthing process, including the preparation for labor and delivery and healing postpartum. They not only offer knowledge, but they also offer emotional and physical encouragement, confidence, and a simple assuredness that you are safe. When interviewing a doula, seek answers that align with your own values. And remember, it’s not always about whether a doula is a newbie or a veteran, but how he or she makes you feel. 

Keep calm, mama, and hire a doula. 

Nastaran (Nast) Whitson is a certified prenatal and postpartum trainer, a gym owner, doula and birth educator. She is the owner of Birthing Strong, a company that seeks to educate gym owners, trainers and women with truthful information to help moms and moms-to-be move safely and confidently in fitness and in life. For Birthing Strong services or to book Nast for a workshop, reach out via [email protected]

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