1) Are you certified or in the process of becoming certified with a long-standing, reputable organization that holds their members to a professional scope of practice? You might be surprised to hear that certification is not required to become a doula, so it is important that new parents ask this question. Being certified shows commitment and a level of professionalism you want in your doula. It also offers the client avenues to file a grievance should there be any issues with the doula – an important level of accountability that uncertified doulas do not have. Certification ensures that your doula has received actual training in various comfort measures, as well as communication tools for working effectively with care providers.
You can begin your search for a doula by visiting the websites of certifying organizations such as CAPPA, the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, found here: www.CAPPA.net.
You might also search www.DoulaMatch.net to find doulas in your area. Just be sure to double check by calling the home office of the appropriate organization that their status is in good standing.
2) How many births have you attended? This one is a biggie. You’ll feel more comfortable with someone experienced, but you might hit it off personality-wise with a newbie. The answer to this question may be a deal-breaker if you’re looking for someone with more births under her belt, so ask this question right off the bat.
3) Are you against pain management? Some doulas may push for as natural a birth as possible and this could lead to anxiety for the mom-to-be if all doesn’t go according to plan. Look for a doula who will support your choices, every step of the way. No matter what the outcome is, you should feel good about it if you were well supported and making informed decisions!
4) What other services do you offer? Does the doula teach childbirth classes or will you have to find classes on your own? What about placenta encapsulation? Perhaps you want a water birth and need a tub. Many doulas rent birthing pools for just this situation. She should be able to provide quality referrals as well.
5) What happens if you’re not available for the birth? While most doulas plan for the possibility of early and late deliveries, what if there are one or two dates that just do not work for your doula? Ask about your doula’s plan B. Does your doula work with other doulas who would fill in should the need arise? Are you comfortable with that?
6) How many births do you attend per month? This is an important question so you know the possibility of births overlapping. Don’t underestimate the possibility of a baby coming when she or he is ready.
7) How do you tailor your services to each patient? You need to feel comfortable that your doula knows what you’d like your birth plan to be. If it doesn’t go that way, you understand, but you want to hire someone who will help you experience the most positive birth possible.
8) What is your approach when working with the rest of my birth team, including my provider and partner? Sometimes women hire a doula thinking that she will be the one to fight her battles for her during labor. A professional doula is not your advocate - she helps you advocate for YOURSELF! A doula that argues with the medical team can create an unhealthy and tense environment in which to give birth. Professional doulas understand that they cannot legally speak on a woman's behalf, but come prepared to provide informational support to help the woman and her partner advocate for themselves.
One of the most important questions of all you should ask (and hopefully won't even have to ask) is how the doula plans to involve your partner. Doulas should come prepared to work as a team with your significant other, not take their place.
This list is just a few of the things we suggest you ask as you plan for your birth experience. These questions will help you gather information and decide if a doula is the right match for you, your significant other and your baby. What are some of your own suggestions?