6 Steps on How to Pick the Right Doula for You – Podcast Ep 132


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I can’t believe we first launched our podcast in October 2018, and this is my very first solo episode! We have been playing around with the idea of incorporating solo shows into our podcast for a bit. Now that this is my first one, I am super excited to hear what you guys think about it. Because my career background is heavily tied around birth and my work as a doula, I thought “How to Choose the Right Doula for You” would be a great first solo episode for me to share my thoughts and advice with all the pregnant mamas.

What the heck is a doula?

If you are pregnant or have been pregnant in the recent past, you have probably heard the word “doula.” Some of you might be getting some witchy, burning sage, banging-on-the-drum vibes when you read/hear this word. And for those of you who have used a doula during your birth experiences, you may be laughing to yourself as you read this because you know that while we can do those things, if that is what you want as the birthing mother, we don’t really do those things. That’s at least speaking for myself and many of the doulas I’ve worked with and know.

I have been a doula for the past 13 years and have attended over 300 births in many different settings — mainly hospitals, a few birthing centers, and home births. I first started working with moms and attending births in 2011. I can’t believe it’s been 13 years, and we’re in 2024.

For those of you who have never heard of the word “doula,” it’s actually an ancient Greek word meaning ‘woman servant, caregiver, or a woman who serves.’ More recently, it refers to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother and her partner during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and their postpartum journey.

Are there more than one type of doula?

Most people, when they think of a doula, think of a birth doula. But did you know that there are many types of doulas available to support people throughout their lives? There are:

  • Antepartum Doulas — support pregnant women on bedrest or in high-risk or high-stress pregnancy situations.
  • Postpartum Doulas — support new families as they transition from pregnancy to parenthood.
  • Bereavement Doulas — provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women and families processing the loss of a child.
  • Abortion Doulas — provide “nonjudgemental” emotional, physical, informational, and logistical support and care before, during, and after a medical or surgical abortion.
  • Sibling Doulas — support families who already have children. They stay at your home (or wherever you agree upon) with your older child(ren) while you are in labor and give birth.
  • Adoption Doulas — build relationships with the birth mother and the adopting or fostering family during the adoption process. Sometimes, it’s just supporting the birth mother or the adopting or fostering family.
  • Death/ End of Life Doulas — support people during their final weeks or days of life. The length of time depends on how soon that person requires their help. Some people might want support soon after they’ve been diagnosed with an illness they’re likely to die from. For others, it might not be till their final weeks and days of life.

That’s many more. So, depending on what season of life you are in and what you’re experiencing, you now know a general direction of what type of doula to look for that’s right for you!

What To Do to Pick the Right Doula for You

For this episode, I am talking about specifically how to pick the right birth doula for you, since birth doulas are currently the most popular type of doula hired. However, these six tips can also be applied when finding and hiring any type of doula for you.

1. What Qualities are Important to You

Before you start looking for a doula, first think about what qualities are important to you in a doula. For example, do you want:

  • Someone with tons of experience — these doulas are usually at a higher price point.
  • Someone who is still in training — good for people with lower budgets.
  • Someone who is certified and has multiple trainings under their belt.
  • Someone who is supportive of home births, birth center births, water births, medicated births, C-sections, etc. — whichever is your preference.
  • Someone who has VBAC experience — we had the founders of the VBAC Link on our podcast, which is an amazing episode!
  • Maybe someone who has experience working with moms of multiples, women who are high-risk, or mothers who have experienced trauma.
  • An older, more maternal person.
  • A younger person with lots of energy.
  • Someone who has had kids — or if that’s not a big deal to you as long as they are trained with experience.
  • Someone who is supportive of LGBTQ+ rights.

Overall, you want someone who understands what’s important to you during your labor and birth and is on the same page as you. When you know the qualities you prefer, you can easily narrow down your options for the right doula. Now that you have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a doula, you can begin your search.

2. Start Your Search

Okay, so now, how do you find a doula? Who should you interview? You can always use Google and try to find some local doulas in your area. There are also great doula training organizations with directories of their certified and training doulas, such as DONA International, CAPPA, Doula Trainings International, etc. I also recommend checking out DoulaMatch.net. Then, you could ask in some appropriate Facebook groups or your local childbirth class eduator and, of course, good ole word of mouth. Ask women that you know, your doctor or midwife, or whoever you trust for some doula recommendations.

Expert Tip: Start your doula search as early as possible. A lot of popular doulas book up their schedules many months in advance because they only take so many due dates per month. Start your search early not to limit your options so you can truly find the right doula for you.

3. Do Your Research

Once you have done your research and you find some potential doulas, look at their websites and social media. See how they present themselves to the world. Do you like how they are communicating with the world? Do you like what they have to say? This is another reason why I like DoulaMatch.net because you can read more of the testimonials that they have received from their previous clients. If you do like what you see and their general vibe, reach out to them and see if you can schedule a consultation.

4. Schedule Your Consultations

Most birth doulas offer consultations, which are free meetings where you can meet face-to-face and see if you are a match. These can be done over the phone, a Zoom meeting, or video chat, but I highly recommend meeting in person. I also recommend meeting more than one doula. It will help you better determine and solidify who is the right doula for you.

When preparing for your consultations, write a list of questions to ask them during the interview. If you’re not sure what to start, here’s a list of my top interview questions you should ask a doula before hiring them.

Download Question Form Here

5. Bring Your Partner

When choosing your doula, have your partner participate in the decision-making process. Of course, the doula will be helping you during labor, but they also work a lot with your partner to help you remain calm, confident, and empowered during your labor and birth experience. So, bring your partner with you to your doula consultations. It’s important that they also get a good vibe for who is going to be at your birth and feel comfortable with this person, too.

While these consultations are interviews, try to make genuine conversation. You want the doulas to answer your questions, but you also want to get a feel for who they are as a person. Talk to her about what kind of birth you want and your labor and birth preferences. Ensure that she is fully onboard with your goals because, as a doula, she is going to be your advocate. While chatting with each doula, also determine if their energy is the energy you want around you during your pregnancy and birth. Does she listen to you? Does she seem like she cares? Is she warm? Is she passionate about her work? Whatever the energy is that you prefer, ultimately determine whether or not you feel safe and comfortable with this person.

6. Ultimately, trust your gut.

If your intuition is telling you something is off, even though they have glowing reviews and everyone says you should go with that doula, listen to your instincts. This is your birth experience. No one else’s. You need to feel 100% comfortable and excited for that person to be with you during one of the biggest days of your life, welcoming your new baby. This person will be a part of your story and in your memories forever, so talk about it with your partner and listen to your gut.

In Summary

To pick the right doula for you —

  1. Know what type of doula you need.
  2. Think about what is important to you and what you are looking for in a doula.
  3. Ask around and do some research for local doulas who can support you.
  4. Set up consultations with the doulas who seem they could be the best fit.
  5. Go with your partner to meet them, and be prepared with a list of questions to ask.
  6. Take your time to think about it and listen to your gut.

Thank you guys for listening to this episode. Let us know on our podcast Instagram page @thebabychickchat what you think! I hope these tips help you find the perfect doula to support you!