Many pregnant women and couples seek out a doula–usually between the 6th and 8th month of pregnancy, but it is never too late and making the contact early can be very reassuring.
Women seeking a birth with few medical interventions in the hospital are most likely to benefit hugely from having a doula. Women whose care providers are OBs or midwives in a busy practice find that a doula provides important informational support during pregnancy, help with decision-making, and continuity of care–mothers know that whichever medical care provider is on call for their births, their doula, with whom they have an established relationship–will be there throughout. Women having their babies at home also benefit from the additional support of a doula (who may arrive at the birth earlier than the midwives to keep the mother company).
Most doula clients interview one or more doulas before making a choice. Whether in person or on the phone, doulas are happy to answer your questions about their services and provide information about themselves and what they can do for you. Below are some questions to ask a doula you are thinking of hiring. Remember, in the end you need to feel comfortable with someone who will be part of your experience of birth–so pay attention to your instincts! They may matter more than some of the facts addressed below.
Questions to ask labor and birth doulas
- What is your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners in pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum?
- What training and experience have you had? Are you certified through any organizations?
- What hospitals/midwives have you worked with in the local area? Do you attend homebirths, hospital and birth-center births, or a mix?
What do your services include?
- How many times do you meet with clients before the birth, and for how long?
- When do you consider yourself “on call” for the birth? When can clients call or e-mail you with questions and concerns?
- When do you join women in labor? If clients are planning an out-of-home birth, do you come to the home or meet the client at the place of birth?
- How long do you stay with clients after the birth?
- How will you work with our primary care provider and with nurses and other hospital staff?
- Do you meet with clients after the birth to review the labor, answer questions, and provide support? At what point, and how many times?
- Do you have experience supporting breastfeeding women? Do you provide information about community resources for new parents, and referrals for postpartum problems if necessary? Do you offer full postpartum doula services?
Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet your backup?
What is your fee, what does it include, and what are your refund policies? Do you have a sliding scale?
Can you provide references?
What books do you recommend to new parents?