TMM Expert Doula, Hypnobirthing and Mindful Breastfeeding Coach Laura Berkeley shares her top tips on choosing the Doula for you, and which questions to ask.
Choosing your Doula
- Make a list of all the things you are feeling. What do you need? What do you want? What do you think you will need and want during birth & in the early days of parenthood?
- Secondly, make a list of what you want to avoid? Why? How could a doula support you with that/those things? Do they have particular skills, specialism or experience in a particular area?
- What are your core values? What matters to you the most and what are the most important reasons to you for considering a doula? Is it physical support? If yes you might want a doula trained in rebozo & massage for example. If it’s emotional, you want that strong connection
- Start looking online, looking at recommendations, websites, getting a feel for who might be available, who’s in your area and what they offer. Doulas can get snapped up quickly so if you find one you even half like the look of get in contact, have a chat then see how it feels
- Arrange a meeting or call with any doulas you think you might like to book and once you start talking, meeting them etc you will get an idea of who is ‘the one’. When you make contact and have a chat or meet up, ensure you share what you have written from your first 2 points of this guide. It’s important to be honest about what you do want, don’t want and also important your doula knows these things so they can align with you. This way they can be honest about what they can offer/if they can meet your expectations and needs
- Don’t feel afraid to talk about money either, many doulas offer payment plans as they know that it is a financial investment or you might not require a full package. Most doulas will be flexible and open to talk about finances
Questions you might like to ask during your first chat
Do also check their website as you will most likely find some a lot of the answers to these questions there, so you can focus your time on getting to know each other)
- How much experience do you have and do you have any references or feedback from previous clients?
- What is your availability, and for how long do you offer support for? When does support begin and end?
- Do you take on several clients at once or one at a time? If so, do you offer shared care or have a back-up if for any reason you can’t make it? Who is your back up doula, could I/we meet them? How does that work & under what circumstances would a back-up doula support me/us?
- Are you insured & do you have agreements/policies? What are your terms and conditions?
- As well as your doula training, have you completed any additional training? Or, have additional qualifications that support your role as a doula, enhancing the services you offer? Such as Hypnobirthing, rebozo training, biomechanics for birth etc?
- What are your core values as a doula? What are your core beliefs and what is your philosophy of birth and parenting?
- If there was conflict with health care providers/professionals, how could you support us with that? How do you feel about that? How would you help me/us navigate that? How do you feel you hold space?
- Do you have experience or qualifications in supporting breastfeeding/chest feeding/post birth such as baby wearing?
- How will my partner be involved? What’s their role during labour and what’s your role during labour? How do you ensure nobody steps on each-others toes and how would we work out who does what?
- What form of contact do you offer? Phone, text, e-mail? How often are we able to contact you with questions, to have discussions etc? Also How many antenatal/postnatal appointments do you offer? Do you include cooking, housework etc? What are you prepared to do and not to do?
- Do you offer payment plans? Are your fees fixed? What needs to be paid when?
- What if I/we decide we don’t want a doula or what happens if my/our baby arrives quickly/earlier than expected and I/we don’t need a doula? What would happen if you miss the birth?
- What do you feel your role is in labour and during birth? What do you feel your role is in the postnatal period? What are your strengths within this role?
- What practical support do you offer? Such as set up a birth pool? What physical support do you offer?
- Do you have experience/a qualification in first aid? (You could also ask about other specific areas/qualifications that might be important to you?