What Is a Birth Doula and When Should You Hire One?
Are you thinking of getting pregnant? Did you just find out you are pregnant? Or are you well into your pregnancy? Any one of these times is a good time to call a doula.
What is a doula?
Birth doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to their clients before, during, and after childbirth (also referred to as “postpartum doulas”) to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. Their influence and support can have a dramatic improvement in the pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences for the mother, partner, and infant.
When do I call my doula?
This begs the question, how do you know when to call your doula? Some clients call as soon as they’ve peed on the stick! Others wait to make certain the pregnancy is viable, and they’ve told friends and family. Some wait until they are further along. And still, others call fertility doulas for preconception support.
If you want a doula to support you during the entire pregnancy, by all means, call right away. They are valuable resources to help you maintain healthy eating habits, understand the role of prenatal vitamins and microbiome-enhancing probiotics, establish healthy mind-body techniques to manage stress and reduce fear, and help you develop a plan for birth and what happens after the baby is born.
If you want a doula only for labor and delivery, then the absolute maximum time is 20-to-25 weeks gestation. Anything longer is too late to provide adequate support and develop a relationship with your doula.
How to find a doula and what to look for
As mentioned, doulas are trained in preconception, pregnancy, labor, and delivery, which is why it’s important to hire the right doula.
Here are the top ten tips when hiring a doula:
- Ask friends, family, and healthcare providers if they recommend a specific doula or service agency.
- Set up multiple interviews in a neutral location with a variety of doulas.
- Hire a certified and well-trained doula. Ask for their credentials and find out what they specialize in.
- Ask about experience and availability.
- Use a gut check to make certain you and your family are comfortable with the doula’s methods and personality. Ask about how they work with your family.
- Discuss your overall health, the potential for high risk, and how this might affect the pregnancy.
- Find out the techniques they use to support pregnancy, birth, delivery, and postpartum care.
- Talk about your wishes for a home birth, birthing center, or hospital birth and how they prefer to interact with medical teams and hospital staff.
- Inquire about meeting times and frequency and how long the doula is available after the baby is born.
- Take a little time to think about your choice to ensure you hire the right person. But don’t take too long, or the doula you want may not be available.