Updated: Jan 15
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 period, 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 you 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 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 most vulnerable and sacred time.
As such, it’s important to find someone who you are compatible with. Trust you 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 have met at least a minimum standard in understanding general techniques and process of birth.
DONA International (DONA.org) and the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA.net) are examples of certifying agencies.
What are some questions I should ask a doula?
Although it’s not easy to compile a complete list of questions as everyone will have different needs and desires in a doula, here are a few questions you should probably have answers to:
What types of services do they provide? Do they provide antepartum, birth, postpartum care?
What experiences do they have? For how long?
What training do they have?
Do they have references they can provide and do they mind you checking with them?
Do they come to medical facilities and if so which types? Do they work with medical professionals and what experience do they have?
When will they be available? Will they be available at any time? Only on certain days? In the middle of the night?
Do they provide a back up doula in case they aren’t available?
What are the costs involved in their tenure?
How often do you all meet with you in person and what happens during these meetings?
Have they worked with medical professional (physician or midwife) or in the location where you are choosing to give birth?
What are some of the support tools they use and are able to teach you? (Breathing techniques, nutrition for recovery, medication, reiki, massage, touch, spiritual etc?).
We hope you found this helpful!
Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and to send any questions to our mailbox at: MedTeam@healfastproducts.com. If you are expecting surgery or childbirth you should also consider signing up for our free 14-day Physician-curated course!
Until then, be healthy and stay informed!
General Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional. All serious disease needs a physician.