how a doula picked her doula

flash back a few years ago. i was told my someone i put trust in in terms of my pregnancy care to NOT hire a doula, that i wouldn’t need one. i would know what i needed instinctually. i listened. and i was sorry i did in the end. not because keaton’s birth wasn’t wonderful and beautiful, but because i missed out on one of the most amazing relationships a couple can have with another person. trevor missed out on having someone comfort him and tell him all was normal, that it was part of the process…and simply to be able to close his eyes and not feel “on” the entire time (yes, the “entire time” was not that long, but it was overnight…). it was one of a handful of things that i thought to myself after keaton’s birth, “next time…” and a few times “i should have known better!!”

flash forward to the present. here we are at that “next time” and before i even got pregnant i actually already really KNEW who i wanted to be present at my birth. she actually knew i was pregnant before trevor did! true, i really couldn’t go wrong with almost any of the wonderful women i know who have dedicated their lives to similar passions as mine (and we have such an amazing doula community here in san diego. honestly. so blessed), but, in my heart, i knew who i wanted by our sides. i knew who i would feel most comfortable with. i knew who trevor would find solace in. i just…knew. my friends had wonderful experiences with her, my students had wonderful experiences with her. i always had lovely conversations with her, our friendship was growing, and i knew that her heart was to glorify God in her work…bingo. jackpot. answered prayer.

but, with that being said, i also know many other moms who don’t have the luxury of knowing so intimately so many doulas and are like “HOW do i find one i mesh with?!”  Here is what I often tell moms:

Ask around. If in a childbirth prep class, ask for referrals. Ask your friends about their experiences. Ask your care provider for referrals. Talk about it with girlfriends. Talk about it at independent baby stores. Post a question on Facebook. Google it. Whatever you need to do. Just involve yourself in conversation, you’ll be surprised at the patterns that show up! i have given referrals to so many mamas and they were really encouraged by how many “overlaps” they had either in their own research or in suggestions from friends, etc.

Interview, I say, at least 3 doulas. Unless you hear choirs of angels in the background and see fireworks when interviewing with #1 or #2, just keep chugging. It can be overwhelming to interview too many women- time consuming and thought consuming! But you do want to feel confident in your decision, as this is a pretty important event in your life- and this person WILL be seeing you in a state of vulnerability and simultaneous power all at one time. and oh yeah, she’ll probably see you naked. but don’t worry, even my most modest of moms at the end usually could care less and are asking their clothes be taken away from them!

{Before you meet, make sure you have asked them about fees, etc so that you are both aware of what that expectation is. If finances are an issue, don’t be nervous to broach the subject. I see doulas as being an incredible value and investment and well worth the fee, but you also don’t want to get in over your head financially. Ask about payment plans, deposits, etc. I know money can be uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s part of the process for these invaluable services.}

Ask them questions. Birth questions. What is your philosophy on birth? How do you involve partner in the birth? When do you normally join us/What are the logistics of that? Besides the actual birth, what else is involved in your services? If you are taking/drawn towards a specific type of labor prep method or course, ask them about their experiences with it. Do you work with a backup? Logistics.

Ask them questions. Real questions. How did you get into this line of work? What do you love most about what you do? Get to know them personally. If spirituality is important to you and something you are desiring for closeness from a doula, that is something certainly to discuss now more deeply, but a great thing to discuss before you even meet in person if that will be a game changer for you.

After chatting for a while and saying your goodbyes, assess how the two of you feel (if you are both at the interview together). Do you feel comfortable around her? Did she seem warm, knowledgeable, encouraging of your specific desire for labor? Do you feel like she will SUPPORT you and your partner in your birth, no matter what your birth looks like or what decisions are made? Is this someone you want to share your journey with? Are you excited about your birth journey now after speaking with her?

I know not EVERYTHING is about feel, but sometimes…it really is all about feel.

I know personally I have been on interviews with moms with whom I can tell almost immediately that they won’t be hiring me. They look at me and, while we get along fabulously, they see a friend. A sister. And their desire was a motherly figure. And others desire more of a friend/sister and I fit that bill really well! Think about your own relationships with people in your lives, think about what will speak to your heart most during a vulnerable time.

Certification status, number of births, etc wasn’t on my own radar for a birth doula- although I will say the doula I selected is certified and has a lovely number of births under her belt…that was not the most important piece of the puzzle to me. That may be for you though, and that’s something to ask her about if you desire to. If she is certified: with whom? What does that really mean? If she isn’t: Why not? Not being certified or not having a hefty number of births under your belt is not a red flag in terms of a person’s ability and fit to be your doula, but if it is something that might bother you- then you need to be aware of it.

I personally went through many questions in a similar way with my husband. A huge part of what we wanted from our own doula was someone who will be able to pray with us and over us throughout my pregnancy and throughout the labor/birth. That would be a game changer for us personally in a doula- we knew it wasn’t a game changer in our care providers, but knew the doula connection was on a different level for us. I also wanted someone who could help me not focus so much on what i KNOW in my head about birth, but about what i can experience in my heart. Being a birth professional who is about to give birth can have its perks, but it can also have its drawbacks…there is a LOT of head knowledge that is apparent now, but might not be so clear during the actual labor. It is easy to get caught in one’s head and forget about that tiiiiiny thing called surrendering. Letting go of all that “stuff” and letting God be in control is a huge vision for this birth…and our doula is someone who can help us on that road.  With that being said, just like how a lot of my clients or students aren’t Christian, a lot of my doulas’ clients aren’t Christian either. Just a friendly clarification 🙂

Anyway, if you would like more info on the doula that Trevor and I prayerfully selected…check out Jenna Anderson, CD (DONA)…here…and here.

And, if you are in the area, feel free to let me know if you’d like more recommendations and referrals. I love to give them out to inquiring mamas!

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One thought on “how a doula picked her doula

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