What the hell does a doula do anyway? Always a good conversation starter in my East London Hypnobirthing and pregnancy yoga classes.
Well what they do, kinda depends on you and what you want. To quote Maddie McMahon from the book – Why doulas matter “Ask a doula what you need and she will give”
A good doula will have no agenda. She is only there for you and will work WITH your care providers in harmony towards achieving the best birth for you
She is not medically trained but is there for a Mama and her birth partner in a support capacity. She empowers, nurtures, offers physical and emotional support and holds space in the room for a birthing woman. She can also help with practical aspects from looking after other children to making tea to helping set up a birth pool and so the list goes on.
There are different types of doula. Birth doulas and post-natal doulas and some do a bit of both. For the purpose of this blog, we are talking about the Birth doula.
Doulas come with AMAZING benefits. Never heard of the doula effect? Google it immediately. You won’t be disappointed!
If you already know all of this and just want to know how to find the right doula for you. Then this part is for you.
There’s no right or wrong way to find a doula but these hints and tips could serve you well in finding yours
Finding a doula is not like buying a new juicer or a getting an Uber. Even if doulas did have a star rating, it would be as much use to you as a chocolate teapot. Why?
Finding the right doula for you is all about connection and trust. Things that you won’t find in any online review.
If you are thinking about hiring a doula then do not delay! It might take you a few weeks to work through the process and they can get booked up super quickly.
Ok. Let’s kick things off
Consider, what kind of birth are you planning? If you are a hypnobirthing Mama then you might want to look for a doula that is trained in hypnobirthing. maybe you have an interest in aromatherapy or other complementary therapy. You can even get reiki trained doulas! On the flip side, it might be the practical aspects, someone to help look after younger children or step in to cover for a squeamish birth partner. Have a think about the birth and what extra support you might need. Consider how much you are willing to pay. Remember this is one of the most important days of your life and that’s where the value is in hiring a doula.
This might mean starting with your friendship circle or If you are taking pregnancy yoga, Hypnobirthing or any other antenatal classes then ask your teacher. They might have a few doulas in their network and can point you in the right direction.
The likelihood is that your doula has an Instagram account or a Facebook account for their business just as much as the next person. So it’s a great place to stalk them… I mean browse! Not only does this help you find them but it helps you have an insight into what they are like and what they do. It’s the all-important connection factor.
There are a few really great doula websites. You could start off your search at doula.org.uk. Here you can see hundreds of fully accredited doulas. Read their online profile and if they have a website then their testimonials. This will give you a pretty good idea of what their style is and what they are all about. It will also let you know their training and any other skills.
When you are researching, there might just be something they say that really resonates with you in what a doula is saying. That feeling? It’s called intuition. Grab onto it with both hands and start working with it. You are gonna need more of that shit for the birth!
Make a shortlist of doulas to contact. I would suggest starting with at least 5 if you can as doulas have to leave a long time window around other Mamas’ due dates so they instantly might have to politely decline – which might mean you lose a couple along the way.
If you are really keen to hire a doula but money is tight then think about a doula in training. They will have completed all of their training courses and will be working with a mentor doula until they have a few births under their belt this means their fees are often considerably lower which makes it more accessible.
However you make initial contact, I suggest speaking on the phone at some point. Have a list of questions ready to ask your doula and also consider asking about the logistical side of things such as costings and what’s included in the birth package as this will vary from doula to doula. Ideally, you want to be looking for at least 2 prenatal visits factored into the cost in order for you to bond before the birth.
Most importantly have a chat, look for that spark. Something that feels just right. Make notes so that you can refer back to them. Especially if you do this without your birth partner then you can discuss this together and involve them.
Remember to ask about a contingency plan if they are not available on your big day. Most doulas work with a network of standby doulas that are there in case for whatever reason they can’t make it so you may want to ask about meeting them too.
Hopefully, you will have at least two or more doulas that you think it would be good to meet. Most doulas offer a free face to face consultation. They want to find couples that they connect with too as they understand the importance of feeling safe and comfortable when you are birthing! If you can involve your birth partner at this stage then great. They might be less bothered than you about the choice but you certainly want to avoid a personality clash between them! Cant have Mama worrying about that on the big day. You can then clearly define what roles each person would play in the birth and what they have got to bring to the party!
Again look for that spark and trust your gut!
OK well, hopefully, that’s enough food for thought to get you going. After all that you might decide to rip up the rule back and that’s totally fine too. In my own search for a doula, I found ours online and for a couple of reasons I just knew. She was pretty local which was important to me and she had kind eyes….yep, that’s how I shortlisted! It sealed the deal for me when we met and she brought round vegan banana and chocolate cake. I had been experimenting in my pregnancy with baking healthy treats to try and satisfy my insatiable sweet tooth. We bonded over cake and that was it. The search was over!
Best of luck with your search Mama. Until the next time.