You’ve found out you’re pregnant (Congratulations!) and you’re getting all of the important things in place in preparation to welcome your baby to the world. Many expecting parents find that one vital decision to make is who should be invited to share in their birthing space. Does it matter? YES!
For one-on-one, non-judgemental support to help you reach your birth goals, a professional doula is the way to go. Research shows that continuous doula support positively influences the outcome of labor. We also know that having extra people in the room can significantly influence the progression of labor. So how do you decide who will be a great fit to help ensure the best outcome?
First, and most importantly, trust your gut during the entire process. When starting your search, are you immediately intrigued by a doula’s brand, her language, and her overall vibe? Trust your intuition and reach out. I recommend scheduling a call first, which can save you a ton of time. Have questions ready to go and you’ll know within the first few minutes whether or not it could be a match.
Here are 4 of my favorite questions (outside of the typical ones) to ask a potential doula:
1. How well do you work with care providers and nurses? Do you have good relationships with local OBs, Midwives, and other birth professionals?
This speaks to a doula's professionalism and their willingness to maintain positive relationships with clinical staff. If they are well-connected, it will only make your experience better.
2. How do you perform under pressure?
This question is one of my favorites! Simply by asking it, you're going to see how someone reacts in a time of stress. Are they cool and confident or do they fumble while trying to figure out what to say and do? Do they take a moment to evaluate the situation before speaking or acting? How do you envision that energy fitting into your birth space?
3. What kind of continuing education is important to you?
You want to know what this person is doing outside of attending births to make their practice better. A doula doesn't need to have a hundred certifications, but she does need to be up-to-date on current standards and events and be motivated to further her areas of expertise.
4. What type of backup plan do you have in place?
Even if the doula has no plans of being out of town around your due date, life happens and it's possible that something comes up. What systems do they have in place to make sure you are supported in the event they can't be there? Do you get an opportunity to meet the backup doula ahead of time? (We highly recommend this!)
Finally, one question that may not indicate if a doula is a good fit for your family: "How many births have you attended?" It doesn’t need to be the first question you ask. (Or maybe you don’t ask that one at all.) Choosing your doula is about fit, feel, and connection. Again, trust your intuition that you'll know when you've met the right support person, regardless of how many births she's attended.
Jami Yaeger, Birth & Postpartum Doula, CLEC
Jami is the Owner of AustinBorn, a boutique center for expecting and new parents offering birth and postpartum doula support, comprehensive classes, yoga, and community gatherings. She is a Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula and received her Lactation Educator Counselor credential from the University of San Diego California. When not working with clients and running AustinBorn, Jami enjoys life in the Hill Country with her husband, son, and Goldendoodle.