When hiring a birth or postpartum doula we encourage you to speak with many doulas. Meeting with a number of doulas for a consult does not cost you anything, so even if you do not know a lot about doulas, interviewing a few of them is a great place to start. But be prepared, once you start meeting these wonderful ladies and learning about their services, you may get hooked. The first part of hiring a doula is finding a doula:
Edmonton Doula Association (DAE)
Our website is a great place to get you going and you may very well find just what you are looking for. We have a referral list that allows you to look up doulas on our web site. We also have a referral line ((780-996-6437) that you can call and you will be given the numbers of a number of doulas to contact at your leisure. You may call one of them or all of them. If you have any issues with the list, don’t hesitate to call back to obtain help.
Doulas advertise in a variety of different venues. Birth Issues is a childbirth and parenting magazine offered all over the city where you can find the names of many doulas. It is published by The Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (ASAC) which is a good local resource for parents-to-be. Check their website at www.asac.ab.ca. Some midwives and doctors work with specific doulas so you may ask them if they have any suggestions. Many doulas also have cards and brochures in health food stores, massage clinics, yoga studios, health clinics, midwifery practices, etc. Some doulas have websites that list their individual services. You can also go to the DONA and CAPPA International websites to locate certified Doulas in your area.
Contacting a doula
Now that you have information on how to find doulas, the next step is the initial contact. Generally people call the doula to learn about her availability. If you are looking for a birth doula, your due date and the timing of your call make a difference in whether or not a doula will be available. The earlier in your pregnancy you find a birth doula the better to ensure that you have more doulas to choose from and time to build a strong relationship with her. However, if you are close to the end of your pregnancy and decide to hire a doula at the last minute, do not get stressed, there will likely be a doula who can help! If you are looking for a postpartum doula, call anytime during the day.
The initial phone conversation is also the time to learn about the doulas philosophies surrounding birth, parenting and her personality. Your first contact with a doula can often foster your bond with her. Be prepared to ask questions and be open with her. Make sure she clearly understands your perspective of birth, parenting, what you envision, what you fear, what excites you. This helps the birth or postpartum doula understand your needs.
With that being said, do not let the phone conversation or her cost be the determining hiring factor. Meeting a person face to face can have a great impact on your decision. Hiring a doula is mostly an emotional decision. Most doulas offer similar services so the one you hire ends up filling an emotional need within you. She may be motherly, or a peer, or strong willed, or many other combinations. All of these styles can only be determined in person. You will know which personality or style suits you best after consulting with several different doulas. Whom do you feel most comfortable with?
Interviewing a Doula
Most Doulas offer a free initial consultation at a location and time of your convenience. The interview is her opportunity to demonstrate her personality and services and how she would best serve you. This is your chance to meet her and ask her questions. Here are a number of questions you could ask:
1. Tell me (us) about your training and experience with birth / postpartum, personally and as a doula.
2. What is your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labour? What is your philosophy about parenting and supporting women and their families during the postpartum period?
3. What role will you play in supporting me (us)?
4. May we call or email you with questions before and after the birth?
5. How many prenatal and postpartum visits do you offer?
6. When will you join me (us) during labour? Will you come to our home or meet us at the hospital?
7. When will you meet with me (us) to review the birth and to answer any questions?
8. Do you work with one or more backup doulas (for when you are not available)? May can we meet them?
9. When do your services begin postpartum?
10. What is your experience in breastfeeding support?
11. Do you have current CPR and Food Safe certifications?
12. What different types of services do you offer?
13. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about your services?
14. What is your fee?
15. What is your refund policy?
Although this is an interview, do not be too formal. Be as open as you can with the doula you are interviewing. Make sure that the location is comfortable. Do not put up too many barriers. Really give her an opportunity to demonstrate her personality and services, and enable her to get to know you too. Give her a good dose of who you are and what you are all about and she will return the effort.
Be sure you have a clear understanding of the payment arrangement. The payment options and services associated may vary to a degree. Generally speaking you can expect the fee to be between $100 – $900.
Selecting a doula
Once you have interviewed several doulas, you are faced with making a decision. A week after all the interviews are complete is an appropriate time frame to get back to a doula. Doulas take a limited number of clients each month. The number is individual and determined by the doula’s availability, other life and family commitments and also an attempt to avoid overlap of births (for birth doulas only). Because of this, the doula’s calendar can fill up quickly.
From this point onward you and your doula will decide the services which will be provided. Each doula has a different protocol on how often you meet, the topics of the meetings, and her availability to you. Be sure you are very clear about the boundaries of your relationship. If she is not planning on covering something that is important to you, ask her. Often a doula can tailor her services to suit you and your specific needs. Your doula is a wealth of information and a link to many services available to you in the city. If she cannot do something for you personally she will most likely be able to direct you to someone who can.