What is a Doula Anyway?

What is a Doula Anyway?
There is an old word that is quickly regaining use and with good reason, doula. What is it? Who is it? Can I buy it in bulk at Costco?

A doula is typically a woman who is experienced or trained in childbirth and provides advice, information, education, emotional support and physical comfort before, during, and immediately after childbirth without judgment. A doula is not a medical professional but rather a person brought in by a family to help ease the stress, anxiety, unknowns, and the transition into parenthood. There are a few different kinds of doulas but the most common types are Birth Doulas and Postpartum Doulas. There are also Full Spectrum Doulas and Bereavement Doulas.

Lets cover some pretty important information now:

How do I find a doula?
You can find a doula by using an internet search engine and looking around your city, you can ask in a mom group on Facebook, you can ask your care provider, you can ask your friends for recommendations, you can hire through a doula agency, you can research certifying organizations and look at their registry, you can ask your childbirth educator who they would recommend, plus many other options. Most of the time, it is through an agency or word of mouth (a recommendation from a friend) that is the most effective way to find a doula.

Ok, I found some doulas, now what?
The best way to start is to look at their websites or social media pages. This lets you get a feel for their personality and style. Then you can decide if this may be someone you would enjoy interviewing. If so, send them a message, use the “Contact Me” form on the website, or send a text or phone call. (Yes, people can still call… its ok!) If that goes well, and the doula has availability around your estimated due date, then set up an interview. What??!! An interview? Yes!! This lets both parties see if it would be a good fit. You want to interview her and she will interview you. Both sides should be comfortable.

When is the best time to find a doula?
While you’re still pregnant. Ok, but really anytime is a good time but most people start their search around 25-30 weeks pregnant.

What do I ask in an interview?
An interview with a doula is not like a typical job interview, it isn’t normally that formal and both sides have questions. But what should you ask? Confirm that there is availability for your date. If there isn’t, then don’t waste anyone’s time, it isn’t going to work out. If there is, here are more sample questions:
– What is your philosophy of birth?’ (Do you agree with her?)
– What is included in your labor or postpartum package?
– When do you go “on call” for my birth?
– Do you have a back-up doula in case you’re sick or at another birth?
– What do you help me with in our prenatal appointments?
– Do you come to doctor’s visits?
– How is your role different than my partner’s role?
– Do you accept payment plans?
– What happens, financially, if you miss the birth because of….?
– What care do you provide after baby is born?
– Can you help with infant feeding, breast or bottle?

You can ask anything you feel the need to ask, after all this person is going to be present at one of the biggest moments of your life, you should know who she is! Do a couple of interviews with different doulas. Find some one that truly is a match.

Why would I go through all of this work, don’t you remember that I’m tired and pregnant?
Yes, I do remember that.  You go through all of this work because it is worth it, hands down. Want to know how I know? I’ll tell you. I have 3 kiddos. My first 2 kiddos were born in a very medical and typical American birthing fashion. I had complications and no support other than my terrified and exhausted husband. I struggled to breastfeed and gave up 3 months in. I suffered postpartum depression. You name it, I dealt with it. So for baby 3 I started searching through anything I could get my hands on to change this developing pattern. I found, contacted, interviewed and hired a doula. This was my 3rd birth! But everything was different. If I developed a symptom and didn’t know if I should call my care provider, I could call my doula first and she would give me the confidence to call. I could text her anytime if I was worried labor was starting and she would walk through the process with me. When it was time for my labor to start she was there, the entire time! Her presence allowed my husband to be able to care for himself too. He could eat, drink, go use the restroom, get a nap if he needed. He didn’t have to worry about “abandoning” me. A nap?! Yes, the doula goes home after everyone is comfortable, but the partner is now “on.” You want them to be awake and peppy.  My labor was as close to my ideal birth experience as I could get and I owe that to my doula. My postpartum was completely different, not one complication. Nothing. It was full of joy and the discovery that this is what it could be like!! Hiring a doula for my third birth changed my life, my career path, and the way I view myself and what my body can do.

Hiring a doula is one of the smartest things I have done in my entire life.

Kelly Losey is a local Doula.  Her services provides birth, postpartum, and lactation support services to birthing mothers in the Los Angeles South Bay area.  Learn more about Kelly here.  

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