By Amanda Dunyak of Done by Dunyak Virtual Assistance
Pregnancy can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also be scary, especially for new parents. Every parent wants to ensure that they are making the best choices for their baby. The confusion and questions can start early on in the pregnancy and many first-time parents may be wondering who the best OBGYN is, which hospital to give birth at, or if they need a doula or midwife. The internet can be a scary place when researching answers to any of the questions you may have as an expectant parent, but it doesn’t have to be!
First, what is a doula and why should you have one? According to DONA.org, a doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical and emotional support to clients throughout all of the stages of pregnancy and childbirth to help them have a calm, healthy, and stress-free experience. Scientific studies have found that doulas can have a positive impact on the entire family. Having the support of a doula has shown a likely decrease in the chance of having to have a caesarian birth, as well as less of a need for pain medication during childbirth. Studies have also shown that having a doula helps to remove any of the negative thoughts and feelings that are sometimes associated with birth, and enhances a women’s feelings of confidence and control in their own strengths and ability to give birth.
If you have decided that having a doula might be the right choice for you and your baby, how to you narrow it down to “the one?” The first step would be to do the research for doulas in your area and make a list. Check out their testimonials and reviews, and ask friends, family, and your healthcare provider for their recommendations as well. When you have the list narrowed down, start contacting the doulas to set up interviews. Even though you are interviewing a potential doula, you should still supply them plenty of information about yourself and your family as well, to ensure that the partnership is the right choice for everyone involved. Discuss a little bit of your birthing plan and be sure to talk about fees to ensure that the doula you choose is within your budget.
Some important questions to ask when interviewing a potential doula are: when and where they received their training and certificate, their experiences working as a doula with past clients, their birth philosophy, the techniques they will use to support you, how they will support your partner throughout the process, frequency of visits in the prenatal stage, policies for when you are in labor, frequency of meeting postpartum, and what is included in their fee for both pre and postpartum support.
During and after the interview process, reflect on some key components such as how comfortable you and your partner felt with the individual, if the doula is an effective communicator, your confidence in the doula’s level of knowledge and training, and finally, your overall gut feeling about the individual.
Once you have decided on a doula, communicate with them to find out what the next steps are and where to go from there. A quality doula will be very responsive and informative and help to put you at ease they are able and confident to provide the support that you and your family need. Dona.org has some great resources available for couples who are considering working with a doula, including a guide for interviewing and choosing the right match for you. Make sure you devote enough time to the process. There’s no set time on when you should start researching and interviewing doulas, but keep in mind that many have a cap on how many clients they are willing and able to take on in a given time period, so waiting too long to hire the one you like best can mean they will no longer be available at the time you may need them.
Overall, you’re going to want a doula who is patient, respectful of your decisions and needs, and passionate about what they do. In the end, you should trust your gut because it’s rarely wrong. If you are torn between a couple different options, use that research (reviews and testimonials) to help you make your final decision, and follow your instincts. No matter who you choose, you will start to reap the benefits of having a doula almost immediately upon hire and will be on your way to having the knowledgeable support you need to set your mind at ease throughout your pregnancy and childbirth.