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First Interview with Doula - what to ask

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I've got my midwife all arranged and am very happy with her.  My partner and I are planning to hire a doula as well.  Paul has anxiety about the birth, and my other friend who is there for support has a compromised body, which limits her physical support abilities.  

For the Doula we're thinking that she will be able to help with the physical support of birth as well as support Paul in supporting me - just to ease that dynamic.  I am also interested in what a Doula can provide post partum in terms of adjusting to such dramatic changes.  I wish to put as many supports in place a head of time.

 

My questions are: what do you ask a Doula at a first interview?  What did other people do and ask? What would you recommend?  Also, for your previous births, what would you recommend in terms of working with a Doula.

 

Thanks!

Sam

post #2 of 9

I think the most important thing about a doula is that her personality and style complement yours and your partners.  For my DD's birth we had a doula who was super-nice and we got along really well and I was very comfortable with her, but when it came down to it her personality wasn't quite forceful enough - I can be...difficult, let's say, and I needed someone to give me a stern talking to as soon as it became apparent that my baby was posterior and I was suffering a lot with back labour.  If I'd had a more experienced doula with a more authoritarian attitude who could have got me positioned better and actually working on it, I think I would have felt better even if the outcome had been the same.  But I curled up in a little ball and made moaning noises and my doula patted me on the head and sympathized.  That might have worked really well for someone who wasn't me.  This time around I've got a doula who is 20 years older than me and way bossier.  I might get heartily annoyed at her, but she'll give me the goods when I need it!

 

It's hard to say when it's your first and you've no idea what you're like in labour, but think about the hardest, most stressful times in your life - what sort of "coaching" worked best for you?  Do you respond better to gentle encouragement or "suck it up, princess" tough talk?  Do you want more involvement, or do you want to go it alone?  Is this support more for your husband or for you? (It is TOTALLY fine - great, even - to hire a doula predominantly for your husband.  Our doula did do a fantastic job of keeping DH settled and sane through it all.)

 

Post-partum, if you have difficulties, it's best to hire a post-partum doula.  Most birth doulas provide some post-partum visits, but they won't be at the level a post-partum doula can provide.  I may be biased, here, being a post-partum doula myself - but my visits are usually 4-5 hours, include some child care so mom can have extra sleep, breastfeeding help, heavy-duty laundry, food preparation, light counseling for both parents if needed (often there's stress and tension) and referrals to other professionals if it seems like a good idea.  I also accompany moms on first outings after baby or to midwife/dr visits if the mom isn't comfortable going alone.  Birth doulas often don't have the time or schedule flexibility to do all this, and honestly a lot of them do births because they love the process of birth and all the drama and wonder and everything that goes with it... I avoid them for the same reasons - I love watching mom, dad and baby get the hang of life together and as I typically work with families for several weeks to several months, I get to see the babies grow and change and see parents' confidence grow as they get to understand their baby's personality.  And, too, much of my function is to provide adult conversation that is completely ok with the only topic of conversation being the baby at hand.  Mamas LOVE to talk about their babies.  Their friends either have no babies or their own babies and keep wanting to discuss THEM - but I am there to talk just about THAT baby.  Weird as it sounds, that's what's needed.  And I don't mind a bit.  I can answer all the "is that normal?" questions and the "how do I...?" questions in the context of this particular family group and I think it's a lot less stressful for mamas than going to a baby group or hanging out with friends and hearing a lot of "well *I* did this" or "we didn't do that".  But, that having been said, all of what I do is stuff that ideally, would be done by a close relative or friend - unfortunately many people in our culture don't have someone like that to call on nearby.  But if you do, that's great, and by all means use them!  I was actually inspired to become a post-partum doula after my MIL took such great care of me & DH after DD's difficult birth.  She came over and did laundry and made us sandwiches and chatted endlessly about the baby - she knew bugger-all about breastfeeding but was as supportive as she could be nonetheless and she basically saved my sanity and prevented my PPD from becoming truly debilitating.  Afterwards, I wondered how people got through it all without a Beverley... and found this concept of post-partum doulas! 

 

Sorry, that's a bit of an essay.  The main point is that if you don't have a lot of support and you and your partner have a hard go of it adjusting, a post-partum doula is a really, really worthwhile investment.

post #3 of 9

As a doula, I can recommend a few questions that are often forgotten ;D

 

First, I would ask about her experience and the number of births she's attended. I can't stress enough that the length of time she's been a doula is NOT important!! How many births might be!! If a doula has been practicing for 10 years but only gone to 25 births vrs a doula who's been practicing for 5 years and gone to 50 births, that's a BIG difference!

 

Don't be afraid to ask for testimonials or referrals.

 

What does her package include and does she have additional training - ie: not all doulas are created equal! Does she have training with rebozo or a tens unit? How about aromatherapy, massage, photography etc. Does she provide placenta encapsulation services (if you're interested in that). What supplies does she bring with her?

 

What is her style? Is she very hands on, or more emotional support? If you're doing a hb, how does she feel about that? Has she attended hb's before? What would her plan be if you had to transfer? If you're planning on a hospital, has she worked at that hospital before? How many times does she meet with clients before birth?

 

Does she work on her own or as part of a doula team? Who is her back up if she's sick or unavailable when you go into labor and can you meet that person before hand. How is payment handled if you use the back up?

 

I'm sure other people can come up with more questions too, but those are things that I would ask and things that I will volunteer to clients if they don't ask. Oh, also, don't be afraid to use a student, but you really need to get a good feeling from them if you do. If doesn't take much to get certified and honestly there are really awesome doula's that *aren't* certified so while that is something you should consider, don't make your decision solely on that!

post #4 of 9

If you're having a hospital birth, ask her if she will labor with you at home, or only at the hospital. 

 

We had an unexpected surprise when I went into labor. I had talked to her about planning to labor at home and she NEVER mentioned this would not be possible. I called her when I was in labor, asked her if she would come over. She calmly said, "no" and told us to call her when we were checked in at the hospital. I literally started bawling when I hung-up because having her at home was always my plan because I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. 

post #5 of 9

Spughy, I wish I could hire you!  I am seriously considering a PP doula, and you would be perfect.  How does your schedule look for next March?  winky.gif

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by buko View Post

Spughy, I wish I could hire you!  I am seriously considering a PP doula, and you would be perfect.  How does your schedule look for next March?  winky.gif


LOL.  Unfortunately I seem to be booked for then.

 

Honestly - although I really like clients who book in advance, about half of them end up needing me not-so-much.  A few post-partum doula visits are ALWAYS useful, but don't commit to more than 8 hours until you've had the baby and you can make a better call on how you're handling it.  Some babies are a 24-7 battle zone, others you kind of forget they're there until they need feeding.  Really, there's THAT much diversity in baby temperament.  And, too, some mamas bounce back within a few days and feel a strong need to be bustling about and active, while other mamas feel a strong need to plunk their bums on their couches and just look at their babies and nurse all day.  And there's nothing wrong with either one, but you won't know which one is you until about 2 weeks after the baby's born.  That's usually when people need a postpartum doula if they're going to need one.

post #7 of 9

Not a lot that I can add from the doula's perspective, other than to reinforce what the others have said. I would stress the hb aspect if that is what you're planning. Being a doula at a homebirth is totally different than being a doula in a hospital. In fact, I know a lot of midwives out here actually discourage doula use at a homebirth because so many doula's have never been in that setting and are more of a distraction than an asset. Homebirth is such a quieter even with so few interventions that you have to look out for, and some doulas can get "chatty" and ruin the experience. So, I would make sure that the doula you hire is familiar with the homebirth environment and is also open to transferring with you to a hospital if that were to come up. Also, if you have a particular "method" of childbirth in mind, be sure that the doula that you hire is familiar with it. It will be better support for you and your husband. And to echo what Melany mentioned, be sure to find out exactly what her support includes. I personally will go to a couple home to labor with them there (because I believe in laboring at home as long as possible), but have heard of several doulas that will only meet at the hospital. Also, find out if there are any circumstances that would require her to leave -- breastfeeding/pumping, stalled/extended labor, etc -- and if she would have a backup come in during that time or not. 

 

On a postpartum note -- I just learned about a specialty that some postpartum doulas have in ayurveda. I guess it is based off the principal that mothers have certain needs through touch & food, as well as helping with newborn issues, that can help with their recovery. I'm still learning about it, but it sounds wonderful. There's a PP doula who works with the group I'm associated with who does this. I am very tempted to hire her after this LO is born.

 

Finally, ask your midwife for a referral. If you are planning a homebirth (or even if you're not) most midwives have worked with doulas that they are comfortable with in the past and will happily refer them to clients. Good luck!

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by maydaymom10 View Post

 

 

Finally, ask your midwife for a referral. If you are planning a homebirth (or even if you're not) most midwives have worked with doulas that they are comfortable with in the past and will happily refer them to clients. Good luck!

 nod.gif  ^^^ True dat.  :)  Good suggestion.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Wow - thank you!  My husband and I just read through these and they've given us lots of things to think about. Particularly reflecting on when times have been hard and what has helped.  I think this will do a lot to frame what we talk about with the Doula  next week.  THANK YOU!

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