Hiring a doula to be a part of your birth journey is a big decision. The right doula can add education, comfort, and direction to your labor and delivery. She can help you come up with a game plan before labor and modifications as needed during labor. She might even be able to shorten the length of labor and really . . . who would turn that down? So, how does one go about choosing a doula? The task may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The following tips are sure to make the process a little less daunting.
Before you begin your research, there are a few things you should consider. Inviting someone into your birth space is a big deal. It’s important to take a few minutes to think about the kind of birth you want to have and what kind of people you want to be a part of it. Below are a few questions to help you through that process.
- What characteristics make you feel safe and calm (i.e. experience, age, physical shape, etc.)?
- How do you envision your partner supporting you? Similarly, how does your partner envision supporting you?
- What can you budget for a doula?
Doulas are not one size fits all. Whether it’s the training they received or their personality styles, doulas bring a variety of differences to the table. While I believe I’m an excellent doula, and I’m passionate about this work, I accept that I’m not the perfect doula for all women, everywhere.
Finding a Doula
Lucky for you, Fort Worth has bucket loads of really good doulas. You just need some help narrowing down the best ones.
- Personal references – Look around you. There are TONS of moms at your disposal. Neighbors, sisters, cousins, friends, the cashier at Target. Ask any and every mom you meet if they had a doula at their birth. If you get weird looks, just think of it as an opportunity to inform the public of these magical birth Jedi.
- Your midwife or obstetrician – At your next appointment, ask your care provider if she has a list of doulas she or her colleagues have enjoyed working with in the past. You’ll feel especially secure knowing your birth team has worked together before.
- Online databases – Google is your best friend when searching for doulas servicing your area . . . not so much when inquiring about a weird mole. There are also websites like Doula Match that include training, experience, rate, and availability. For doulas serving military families check the Military Birth Resource Network. If you’re feeling extra particular, you can also search the databases of doula organizations, like CAPPA, DONA, or Birth Boot Camp.
- Facebook groups – If you’re on Facebook, you know there is a plethora of groups, both area and topical. These groups, like FWMB Neighbor Groups, are great places to get references on all things as well as find your Mom Tribe — necessary for new mom life.
Choosing a Doula
Once you’ve researched and contacted the doulas you’re interested in, it’s time to meet in person. Most doulas offer a free interview (or “consultation”) before requiring a signed contract and retainer fee. This typically brief meeting is a time for you to get to know the doula and vice versa. Because the work of a doula is intimate, it is important that everyone connects. Therefore, your intuition is your best hiring tool. And don’t forget your partner, especially if he plans to have an active role in the birth room. I always encourage potential clients to bring their partners to the initial consultation. If your partner is adamantly against a doula, put off the hiring process until he is open to the idea. Nothing good can come from hiring a doula against his will, trust me.
Just like falling in love, when you find the right doula, you will feel it in your soul. I always joke that the hiring process feels reminiscent to dating, especially when there is chemistry at an interview. I once had a client confess that she and her husband wanted to hire me on the spot but didn’t want to come on too strong, so instead they waited two days to call me. I LOL’d like a fool because I totally understood and felt as giddy as a schoolgirl about them as well. When you know, you know.
A friend of mine is getting ready to have a baby, and they were curious about how to find the right doula for it. I really like that you say to ask around in public and see if anyone has any good references. It would be nice to talk to them about the service and make sure it’s right for you.
Thanks for your comment about how you doulas can help you plan your labor process ahead of time. I like how you said that you should let them know helps you feel calm too. My sister is pregnant, and she is considering labor doulas to prepare to give birth.