Questions to Ask Your Doula

QstoAskDoula

So you’re going to hire a doula – yay! First things first, did you find one yet? (How to find a doula) Once you do, come back here!

I’ve run into many moms asking what they should talk about during the initial interview with their potential doulas. The interview is a great time to learn about your doulas strengths and weaknesses, her views and values, and ultimately, if you two click personality-wise. The interview is two-fold: She is getting to know if you’re the right fit for her as much as you’re getting to know her.

First of all, relax. The interview is a time to just chill and get to know each other. My favorite part is just chatting with the potential clients about where they’re from, they’re hopes for this birth, and their experience. In the same way, you as a potential client can get a feel for the way I run things and my personality.

In any case, here are some questions that can help you during the interview process. By all means, ask all of them or none of them, it’s up to you! See where the conversation brings you.

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— Why did you become a doula?

— Where did you do your training/certify?

— How long have you been a doula? How many births have you attended?

— What do you offer with your doula services? Prenatal visits, postnatal, breastfeeding education, lending library, etc.

— How much do you charge? Do you take payment plans? Offer discounts?

— What do you require of me as a client? Childbirth education classes, breastfeeding knowledge, certain conversations with providers, etc.

— How many births do you take a month? Do you offer backup arrangements?

— When does the on-call period begin?

— How do you feel about natural birth? Epidurals? Inductions? Cesareans?

— Have you attended a cesarean birth? A VBAC? Multiples birth?

— When do you arrive at the birth? How long do you stay?

— What are your favorite pain management techniques?

— How do I get in contact with you?

— Tell us about a birthing experience.

**I suggest you interview several doulas in the area before you make your decision. Doulas understand if we are not the right fit for your particular circumstance. There is a doula out there for everybody!**

How to Find a Doula

HowtoFindaDoula

There are doulas out there… but how do you find them? It’s surprisingly easy, if you just know a few tricks and tips! Here are some of the best ways I know to find the doula right for you.

ASK AROUND

A majority of my client base comes from word-of-mouth. Be that on online forums (think, FB groups), former clients, or other doulas who are either booked up or suggest me as an alternative for whatever reason. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

DO A QUICK WEB SEARCH

Open up your favorite web search and type in Doula and then Your City. Most doulas have websites. Click on some of them and see where they lead!

ASK YOUR CARE PROVIDER

Most care providers will be able to give you the names of popular and reputable doulas, especially ones they have worked with and can vouch for. I know I have gotten a couple referrals from care providers. As a doula, I’ve handed out a few business cards to providers to give to their clients. Just ask!

DOULAMATCH.NET

While I couldn’t be a part of this website due to my location, if you’re in the United States you can easily find a doula on this website, as long as the doula has signed up and made a page for themselves. Just type in your zip code and it will bring up a page of doulas available near your due date, their prices and experience, and so on. Start calling them!

DOULA ORGANIZATION WEBSITES

There are several organizations that certify doulas, such as CAPPA, DONA, BAI, CBI, and others. Visit their websites and do a search for doulas on there.

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**A lot of these practices can be used to find childbirth education classes, lactation consultants, and midwives. Just start doing your research!**

Doulas Deserve a Living Wage, Too

DoulasDeserveLivingWage

I participate in plenty of online forums/groups, mostly through Facebook, that deal with pregnancy and birth. These groups feature a wide range of individuals, mostly women, looking for support and answers to their questions. They cover most demographics, areas all over the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world, all ages and family sizes. There is a wide variety of experience.

What I see almost every day is someone asking for information about doulas – Should they hire one? What should they ask the doula at the interview? What makes a good doula? How can I get one for cheap?

This post is mostly for you doulas, but I’m trying to aim it toward the pregnant mothers who might stumble upon this blog.

Doulas deserve a living wage, too.

What does that even mean? What is a living wage? Simply put, a living wage is “an amount of money you are paid for a job that is large enough to provide you with the basic things (such as food and shelter) needed to live an acceptable life.” (source) This is why we have a government-regulated minimum wage, so that people will be paid fairly for the job they do, so that they can live and support themselves and their families.

There is a common myth among new parents that the role of a doula should come at an inexpensive cost or free of charge. I can see how that comes about: Doulas are seen as quiet helpers who sometimes “don’t do much,” that they aren’t medically needed for a birth, that they stand in for the mother, grandmother or sister of the birthing mother.

Doulas still play an important role in the birthing room, as important as the midwife or the nurse, just in a different capacity. Just as you wouldn’t expect to have a midwife attend your birth for free, you shouldn’t expect a doula to do the same. I understand that birthing can cost a lot of money, especially if your insurance won’t cover certain aspects (like a doula.) However, understand that the cost of a doula is worth it. Worth every penny.

Becoming a doula isn’t free, and neither is maintaining the job of a doula. Let’s look at a basic breakdown of my own expenses:

Training/Certification: $700+
Materials: $75, ongoing
Childcare: $8-10 per hour
Travel: $20+ per birth

Even a doula who doesn’t participate in a training program and gain a certificate, or has childcare issues, still has expenses with every birth. Not to mention the time spent with each family. Let’s look at that:

Interview: 1-2 hours
Prenatals: 1-2 hours each (at least 2)
Birth: 1-24, or more, hours
Postnatal: 1-2 hours
Total: 4-30+ hours

Imagine you spent 30 hours working at your job… what would you expect to be paid?

Living wage is dependent on a lot of factors, that’s why you will find doulas of ranging prices. You have to take into account the area you live in (cities generally are more expensive), the economy of the area (rent, gas prices, so on), the doulas experience**, and the doulas availability. Of course, as a client searching for the doula, these aren’t your issues to be concerned about. As a doula, you need to look at these factors when determining your pricing.

**I don’t believe a doula fresh out of training should be offering free services to work on her certification. However, a bit of a discount is appropriate, but not necessary. I offered my first few births at a discounted price. This is an individual decision. You’ll find more experienced doulas will charge more, which is perfectly acceptable.**

Lastly, own your pricing. Don’t make apologies for running your business. If a potential client asks how much you charge, don’t be sorry for naming your price. Don’t feel like you need to offer discounts for everyone. If this is your job, then work it like a real job. Lawyers don’t feel bad for their prices, doctors don’t either, neither should you apologize for the service you provide.

What are your thoughts on living wage?

So you want to be a doula?

So you want to be a doula

I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to become a doula. Sometime in the year after my daughter’s birth, the idea was planted in my mind, as I wanted to help others with the knowledge and passion that had grown inside of me. In her second year of life, I decided I should pursue it, but it took me months to actually take the plunge. I know waiting for good for me and my circumstances, because I became a doula when I was ready.

Choosing this path hasn’t been without its fair share of work. I think before anyone decides to pursue work in this business, it’s important you sit down and really think about some things. Your life will change, but hopefully for the better.

Are you ready?

Being a doula takes incredible mental, emotional and physical strength. Mentally, you need to be sharp and ready to act at a moment’s notice, armed with your information arsenal. You will be facing some tough challenges – births that didn’t quite go as you planned (even though the parents might be happy), care providers that you butt heads with, and possibly even difficult clients. Anything can happen in a birthing room! Emotionally, birth can have you all over the place. From a beautiful birth that brings you to tears to one that breaks your heart. Attending the birth of another woman can bring up feelings over your own births, whether you perceived it as good or bad, and you have to be able to control those emotions somewhat to get the job finishing. And physically? Well, you will be up and down, on your feet, squatting, rubbing backs, massaging, and awake all night long. Can you handle it?

Being a doula is also time-intensive. Not only could you be at a birth for any length of time, you will also schedule one to three prenatals with the couple, plus a postnatal visit, not to mention the initial interview. There’s also the advertising, the trainings, and maintaining your website, if you choose to have one. Taking any number of clients per month could be almost a full-time job!

Do you have the right support system?

The biggest challenge I faced wasn’t in the birthing room, it was at home arranging childcare for my toddler. The on-call life isn’t a forgiving one and you need your support system of friends, family, and others, behind you. Is your partner supportive of your new career path? Will your children be alright if you’re gone for 24+ hours? Do you have friends and family you can rely on to help out at a moment’s notice? The simple way to know is to ask people for help. You might be surprised as to who is willing to be there for you! But having that support behind you is key.

What sort of doula do you want to be?

I chose to be a labor doula, because I wanted to be in the birthing room and helping the new families. There are also postpartum doulas, who specialize in family and newborn care after the baby arrives. If, after doing some careful thinking, you realize you don’t want to be a doula but still want to impact the birth world, there are other paths to take: A wide variety of breastfeeding opportunities, childbirth education, and pregnancy fitness and nutrition, to name a few.

Will you certify or not? Where?

You do not need to be certified to practice as a doula, however it is highly encouraged that you take a training and certify through an organization. Obviously, this is a decision you have to make after doing your research. Some of the most popular organizations are:

CAPPA (where I did my training)
 DONA
CBI
BAI

Just to name a few. There are countless organizations you can train through that offer a wide variety of options. No matter where you go, you will be ready to attend a birth and use your skills wisely, and have that support system of other trained doulas behind you. The major differences in organizations would be their policies (such as regarding attending home births) and how they approach their certification process, as well as pricing and location. Look at each organization, ask others, and weigh the pros and cons. You will find your right fit.

So you want to be a doula?

That’s AWESOME! Welcome to the club! There is still such a need for doulas out there in the world. Start talking to people and network. Get a feel for the business. And then… take the plunge. It’s worth it!