My recommendation, before you even start your search, you need to consider what is important to you when it comes to a doula, that way you can gauge if the ones you are interviewing fit the bill. Below is a list of things you could possibly consider:
- Experience: how experienced do you want your doula to be? Are you ok with a new doula? Do you feel you need an experienced one?
- Connection: is it most important that you connect with someone, that they feel like a friend you can tell anything to?
- Cost: what is your budget? And what type of fee schedule would fit your needs?
- Proximity: how important is it that your doula be from your area? Do you need your doula to live close to you or are you ok if they need to travel a bit to get either to you or your birth place?
- Personality: Are you looking for a doula that feels like a motherly figure? One that feels like a sister or a friend? One that feels more like a coach? One who has a calming voice?
- Faith: Do you want your doula to have the same beliefs as you?
- Training: Would you like your doula to have a specific training, i.e. Spinning Babies, self hypnosis? Be certified? Have used a certain organization to train/certify?
- Offer Other Services: Would you like a birth doula that also offers lactation services, postpartum doula work, placenta encapsulation, etc?
- Insurance: Some companies will cover doulas, they usually do have to be certified with certain agencies. If this is something you know you will need, research what the criteria is ahead of time so you can present it to any doulas who you could possibly interview.
- FSA/HSA: If you plan on paying using these methods, you will first need to know if your company covers doula services & then the criteria for submitting claims/paying/getting reimbursement. You will also need to ensure your doula can provide proper documentation to help you submit invoices/receipts.
- Solo Doula vs. Group: would you prefer to work with a doula who is solo, to hopefully have that doula attend your birth? Or would you prefer to work with a group of doulas in an agency/co-op/collective?
- How do you view their role: Are you wanting a doula who provides strong partner support? One who will loudly advocate for you?
Once you have decided what you hope yo find in your doula, you could try finding doulas using the following methods (Please keep in mind, you need to ask why certain people are referring to certain doulas. Their reasoning on why someone is good may not match your needs.):
- Ask you family & friends who they have used. The key to this is getting referrals from people who are planning a similar birth to what you want.
- Join local FB birth groups & get referrals. Posting in groups can seem overwhelming, as you may get a lot of comments. Be specific with your needs. List the area you live in, where you plan on delivering, what your due date is, and what you hope to find in a doula. This could help limit the amount of comments you get to doulas who are available for your area and due date. But sift through the comments and see which ones were made by actual clients & see if they list reasons why they liked a particular doula. You could even ask to private message some responders to inquire about their experiences.
- Go to doulamatch.net. This is an amazing resource that will fine tune a search based on your location and due date. The doulas must pay to be displayed on this site so it may not be an accurate representation of all the doulas in your area. But it lists a lot of information on each doula, like their experience, their training, pricing, etc. which could help shorten your search time.
- Receive referrals from your provider (but I caution you to not limit yourself to only their list). Not all providers will have doula referrals especially if they do not typically have patients who work with them. But some providers who do, can be a wealth of information on doulas simply because they get to see them in action and are exposed to them on a consistent basis.
- Find "Meet the Doula Events" in your area. These events tend to focus on families getting to meet multiple doulas in one evening. These short meetings do not replace a formal interview but can help you get a short list of who you would like to interview further.
- Ask your other providers, like your Webster chiropractor. If you are seeking other pregnancy related services, those practitioners may have great insight into your area's doulas. If they are exposed to many pregnant women, they would have heard a few doulas' names. And they probably have networked with some too.
Once you have a short list of who you may want to interview, I suggest you look further into these doulas. You can find a lot of information using the following resources:
- Their social media pages
- Their business websites
- Local birth & parenting FB groups (search their name in the search bar & read through their comments on posts & see what info they may share publicly, to gauge if they seem to match what you are looking for).
And once you have the interviews set up, here is a list of commonly asked questions that you can ask (although I find organic conversation is always a good indicator of how you mesh with a certain doula while allowing you to get all the information you need on their services. I tend to find I get hired & work well by families in which we just talk vs. the ones that feel like a traditional job interview).
- How long have you been a doula?
- How many births have you attended?
- What organization did you train through?
- Do you have any additional training?
- How do you support partners?
- How many times during pregnancy will we meet? What will we discuss?
- How do you help me advocate for myself in the birth space?
- How do you work with medical staff & providers?
- Do you come to your house while in labor, before transferring to my birth place?
- Do you have a cap on how many hours you will provide support? Do you charge extra if we go over that time?
- Do you work with backups? What happens if you are sick or at another birth?
- How do you handle payments?
- What kind of support do you provide? How would you describe your style?
- Where do your clients primarily birth? Hospitals? Home? With doctors? Midwives?
- This is my birth plan (insert whatever type of birth you envision). Do you support this often? How would you help me?
After each interview, it can be helpful to take time to decide how you thought it went. Many times, people know there is a connection right away. The conversation was effortless & felt like that doula checked all of their boxes. And sometimes, you feel you want to keep exploring options. When you find the right match, it will feel right.
Good luck on your search!
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