How do I choose the right doula?
*Is she certified?
To become a certified Labor Doula is fairly simple:
The requirements are that you attend an intensive 3-5 day workshop.
Complete a short reading list (6-10 books)
Write several essays.
Attend 3 births where you are evaluated by the mother, nurse and provider.
*Is she experienced?
For many women, asking if a doula is certified is just a starting point. Experience once she is certified holds more weight. Keeping in mind that it only takes 3 births to become certified, decide how much experience it would take for you to be comfortable and keep that in mind as you talk with doulas.
*Is she available for your estimated due date?
The amount of availability a doula has, largely depends on the systems she has in place. If she is an independent doula (not with an agency) she can take 1 or 2 clients a month with a back up doula in place. Insist on meeting the back up doula before signing a contract. That person may end up being your doula and you should have the opportunity to interview her as well. Make sure the back up doula’s name is part of the contract you sign, to protect yourself from getting a different doula that you haven’t met on “labor day”. If a doula works in a team situation, the team of doulas will be able to take 3-4 clients a month, which increases the amount of availability they have. Meet both team members and be sure you “connect” with both of them.
*Is her fee within your budget?
Keep in mind the old saying… “You get what you pay for” Ask if a payment plan is an option if the doula or doulas you want are priced outside of your budget.
*Does she have references you can call?
Always call and speak in depth with a couple of her references. A satisfied previous client usually loves the opportunity to rave about her “doula experience”.
*Does she work cohesively with the provider you have chosen?
This is so important to the flow of your birth once you arrive at the hospital. The last thing you want is a combative relationship between your doula and your nurse, doctor or midwife!