When I think back to planning our two births, I didn’t wonder for a second about having a Birth Doula, I knew we would work with a doula. I knew I wanted the additional emotional support of someone with experience and my husband and I knew he would be interested in having guidance in how best to support me in the middle of the action.
Having someone to process with, to ask questions of (often moms tell me I’m the one they ask the questions that have them feeling stupid-like, they don’t want to call their midwife or nurse line because they are non-medical questions or they are curious) and to share with. It’s having someone witness the experience the Power That You Are.
A Birth Doula is non-medical support, offering information, emotional and physical support during your labor and delivery. We recognize the stages of labor and can offer pain management tips and encouragement. Studies show that when a Birth Doula is present, there is less need for pain management medication, which results in less need for medical intervention, and babies are healthier and are able to breastfeed more successfully.
When you contact your potential Birth Doula and meet with her by phone or in person, these are great questions to consider.
Begin with her training:
- How and where were you trained?
- How long have you been a doula?
- How many births have you attended (or families have you cared for?) They just want to know that you’ve got some experience under your belt. They are hiring you because you have seen birth 3 times more, 30 times more or 300 times more than they have.
- Does she have any additional training that complements her Birth Doula work? Many Birth Doulas have another arm of expertise in their business, such as lactation, yoga, or postpartum doula training. My area of expertise is in Nutrition Response Testing, which keeps my mama’s health in tip top shape, complementing the Bradley Method they are also getting from me.
- What areas does she serve? Though I live in the West Metro are and the following communities are right out my back door, West Metro, Minnetonka, Long Lake, Orono, Plymouth, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Golden Valley and Minnetrista, I also serve the greater metro areas of Minneapolis St Paul.
- Do you have any references or testimonials we can see?
- How do Birth Doulas work with OB’s/midwives? What is your specific role?
(..and this wee one was born on her kitchen floor just minutes after the midwife arrived!)
Continue with learning of any unique/difficult situations she may have seen or supported: (these aren’t necessary though these are questions that have come my way in the past.)
- Have you supported expecting parents in any difficult or unique situations?
- In the event of a home birth transfer to hospital, how do you support us?
- What if we need an emergency cesarean, do you come in the operating room with us?
- How do you support moms with a breech baby or who is carrying multiples?
- Do you work with teen moms?
- What happens if I elect to have a cesarean, will you support me?
You will want to know about her services and contract specifically:
- Do I sign a contract?
- Are you available to me prior to my labor?
- For how long are you on call? What if I go beyond my due date?
- What is your fee, what does it cover, how and when do I pay you?
- Do you have a back up? When can I meet her?
- What about Postpartum Doula Services?
Be clear on how you will communicate with her:
- How do I reach you when I think labor is starting?
- When is the ideal time for you to join us?
- Will you come to our house or meet us at the hospital/birth center?
- Will you teach me techniques to use in labor?
- How long will you stay with me after labor?
(with one of my doula babies…)
You might find the answers to these questions helpful:
- What are your philosophies on childbirth? I have found most Birth Doulas take a stand for you with what your needs and desires are-however, it is important to understand where your doula stands because I have also seen that get in the way. There are some doulas who won’t support elective cesareans or births with epidurals in the plan. Be clear with the doula you are interviewing what her philosophy supports.
- Will you help us formulate our birth plan?
- How will my partner stay involved in my birth if we have a Birth Doula?
- We have another child (or children: a big brother or sister), do you have any suggestions for how to include him or how to manage her care during the early stages of postpartum?
Again, these questions to ask when interviewing birth doulas aren’t a must, and you can personalize them however you’d like. I have worked with parents who only ask a few questions, and I have worked with couples who are interested in a more lengthy interview process.