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Mothering › Groups › August 2013 Due Date Club › Discussions › How do I interview a doula?

How do I interview a doula?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am planning a hospital birth with this baby, but feel having a doula would be so helpful in helping me advocate for a natural birth when I am most vulnerable. Also, I just need a support person that isn't going to fall apart like my mom and husband (bless them) if anything goes awry or even seems to. To say doulas are few and far between where I live is an understatement of epic proportion and I may be looking at finding one at quite a distance--so I want to be sure it's the right one. Can any of you mamas experienced in doula searching or those of you that ARE doulas help me figure out what to ask/look for? I was a total failure at hiring a midwife last time (I was so stubborn about having a homebirth, I found the only person I could get who would help me have one even though she was pretty much the worst possible match for me and possibly incompetent/negligent). So I need help. HELP! Thanks. :)

post #2 of 20
I don't have any suggestions, but want to wish you luck finding a good match! We decided to not get a doula last time with our hospital birth because of cost and I so wish I would have had the extra support. My boyfriend was a panicky mess and little help once they started bringing up negative thoughts regarding my VBAC. I am definitely going to search for one this time...having the support really is priceless.
post #3 of 20
So, I think, that it's pretty important that you have a good connection with whomever you hire. Birth is so intimate and you are so vulnerable, that you really want to feel comfortable and safe with the doula you choose. She should put you at ease.

Experience is good, sure, but once someone has attended a few births, they are usually pretty competent. Just an example: A doula that has attended 300 births may have more experience with techniques to help complicated labor situations, but a doula who has attended 5 births probably caries around a "labor progress handbook" with info about those techniques. I'd probably ask a doula who didn't have a ton of experience what her experiences had been like, what she would do in a complicated labor, if she feels comfortable with dealing with things that are outside of her experiences thus far, etc. But I, personally, would go with connection over experience most times if I was satisfied with the answers I got.

You should be upfront about whatever it is that you are looking for from her. And see what she says about it. In general, She should ask you questions that get you to Give more information as well, or questions that make think more thoroughly about your priorities for birth. (it's usually hard to get too far far from hospital policies, kwim?)

I wouldn't be confident with someone who promised too much. We can't protect you from bad care providers, or bad hospital policy. We can't keep interventions from happening to you if you or your partner can't speak up for yourselves. I can look at the situation calmly and objectively and tell you what I see happening, tell you that your OB is about to do something you had expressed concern over earlier, remind you that you can make your own decisions, but I can't come in an take charge. You wouldn't want that anyway. You wouldn't want the tense and adversarial environment that is created by a doula clashing with the staff. You (and when you can't, your dh) have to advocate for you. A doula can and should let you know that the steamroller is coming, but she can't stop it, only you can. I think this is an honest statement about being a doula, and I try to convey it to people who interview me. I think honesty is important!

I hope that was helpful, and not just rambly smile.gif
post #4 of 20
A question for you all- funny that this thread is up now. I just emailed a doula about getting together for a consult (My doula from last time is moving! So sad!). She is willing to get together, but warned me that she will be on vacation until the 27th (6 days before I am due). I actually had my daughter on my due date. She says she can arrange for a backup doula if I go early. What do you guys think? I haven't met her yet, but I do think I'll really like her.
post #5 of 20
If you want to hire her, meet the backup doula first, and make sure you like her too. 6 days is cutting it close!
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BKGreen View Post

I don't have any suggestions, but want to wish you luck finding a good match! We decided to not get a doula last time with our hospital birth because of cost and I so wish I would have had the extra support. My boyfriend was a panicky mess and little help once they started bringing up negative thoughts regarding my VBAC. I am definitely going to search for one this time...having the support really is priceless.

My Dr brought up the possibility of a doula as they improve birth outcomes. And, I said, "oh insurance doesn't cover it." And she said, "I know of doulas that work pro bono or sliding scale so I'm sure we can find one for you." I wouldn't know how to find these networks elsewhere but at least they do exist here.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana731 View Post

If you want to hire her, meet the backup doula first, and make sure you like her too. 6 days is cutting it close!
Thanks for the advice, Banana! I have a meeting set up with her for tomorrow and I will go from there. I probably do need to meet the backup if I end up going with this doula.

Sidenote- I was in the doula association's web page for my city and saw that there is a very active male doula here. He looks to be in his 50's or 60's. I was impressed- but don't think I would be comfortable with a male doula. What do you guys think?
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecoffeebean View Post

Thanks for the advice, Banana! I have a meeting set up with her for tomorrow and I will go from there. I probably do need to meet the backup if I end up going with this doula.

Sidenote- I was in the doula association's web page for my city and saw that there is a very active male doula here. He looks to be in his 50's or 60's. I was impressed- but don't think I would be comfortable with a male doula. What do you guys think?

That reminds me of the episode of The Office where Jim and Pam's lactation consultant at the hospital was a man. My sister and I died laughing. I am all in favor of equality and accepting men (and women) in non-traditional roles, but I would not be comfortable hiring a man doula and making that intimate connection. My husband is the only male birthing partner I want. And also: birthing is women's work and I just don't feel men can understand it the way women can- especially women who have given birth themselves. I don't think I'd hire a doula who had never given birth either. JMO.
post #9 of 20

I think finding someone you make a connection with is really important as a pp pointed out. Another thing you might look for is if she's familiar with your OB/Midwife and/or the hospital that you will be at. That, can make a big difference! If she's familiar with the care provider and the policies and procedure of where you are she can help you know what's coming, maybe give you a better idea of when to go to the hospital, etc. If the OB/Midwife respects the doula especially they become a really wonderful team to help you and the energy in the room can be very positive and wonderful for labor! 

post #10 of 20

I was wondering what people's thoughts are about having a doula if you are birthing with a midwife at home or in a birth center?  Do you need both?  

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jillgayle View Post

I was wondering what people's thoughts are about having a doula if you are birthing with a midwife at home or in a birth center?  Do you need both?  

 

It really depends on the situation, I think.  With my first (midwife at free-standing birth center), she had an assistant, my friend was there (giving massage, it was wonderful!), and my husband of course.  One more person would have been overkill.  Especially since, as it turned out, I just wanted to be left alone - except for the massage part of course.  ;)

 

This time around we'll be at home but with all the same people.  If for some reason I can't rely on my friend based on her schedule at the time...well, I might consider it since we now have a son to worry about and no family to take him.  If I hired a doula, it would be someone who had very specific services, like placenta encapsulation, perhaps experience in massage to help deal with contractions, and with the express purpose of keeping my son busy more than helping me, or who can take over the role of my husband while he's taking care of our son.  My midwife is a wonderfully calming person who makes sure she's there in *plenty* of time, so I don't feel like I would need a doula for labor support, but more for other things.

post #12 of 20
I like to have someone with me when I labor. Last time, I had MW, her apprentice, dh, my mom (who was in and out). That was perfect. Someone was always around.

This time, the apprentice is no longer working as an apprentice, but I really liked her, so I'm hiring her as a doula.
post #13 of 20
I think Banana really covered it. The only doula I've hired before was a friend from church who helped us pro bono because we were planning a hospital birth and DH was unemployed. This was 11 years ago and there weren't many options. Now, I'm also a doula a know many in the area. I'm not sure that I know whom I'd choose for my birth, though. I haven't felt like I needed one in prior births but with major DH issues, I may need the support. I also sort of like the idea of experiencing a good, experienced doula myself.

Personality is definitely what I'll be looking for. Interview as many as you can. Just like a mw, you need someone you can completely trust as well as interact well with. Price is obviously a consideration but shouldn't be the main factor.
post #14 of 20

Thinking I may need a doula this time around. We will meet with some new midwives we are considering for care and delivery this saturday, and try to get a sense of how present they are/if there are assistants etc. if i were to birth there.  But, in talking about it with DH, he was really honest and said even though this is our second, he is not sure how helpful he will be.  He did some support last time, but he has the tendency to pass out in medical situations.  Will that be different in a birth center, where it is more cozy/homey? I can't be sure.  Last time, he did some massage, helped me in the shower several times, etc. but it was a long labor, he was exhausted and stressed and felt in no way able to help me push. I don't feel badly about it, I have known that this would be a problem for as long as i've known him and i rather him be honest than say he thinks he can do something and then leave me in a lurch.

Anyways, I'm thinking more and more about a doula. We would not qualify for pro bono services, but i am concerned about cost and at the same time would be happy to help someone get experience they need in training.  If I do think about a doula in training, or an apprentice what do I need to consider besides a good fit/personality? 

post #15 of 20
You might ask what organization she did her training with, and if she's completed it. I think most of the big ones (DONA, ICEA, CBI, and there are more. Pretty much anything you're heard of and probably some you havent) are giving adequate courses and required reading lists. Most people don't start attending births until they've finished all that anyway. So they have the book knowledge, and now they need the practical experience.

And even if she hasn't attended many births, she may have attended some friends births or her own. You can ask about that as well, of you like.
post #16 of 20

A doula is a birth partner.  She is there to support the mother and father through the birth of their child.  These are some of the statistics of the benefits of having a doula:

 


 

  • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
  • 25% shorter labor
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery

 

According to childbirth.org, but they are the same statistics that we heard in the doula classes I took.  A doula can be an active participant in helping you through your birth or she can be a presence in the room, sitting in the corner and holding space for you as you birth.  There are many trained and un-trained doulas out there.  There is nothing in the training that can't be learned in a book.  I did DONA and CBI and I have met many "un-trained" doulas who are very effective in the birthing space.  

Good luck

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana731 View Post

You might ask what organization she did her training with, and if she's completed it. I think most of the big ones (DONA, ICEA, CBI, and there are more. Pretty much anything you're heard of and probably some you havent) are giving adequate courses and required reading lists. Most people don't start attending births until they've finished all that anyway. So they have the book knowledge, and now they need the practical experience.

And even if she hasn't attended many births, she may have attended some friends births or her own. You can ask about that as well, of you like.

Thanks, Banana! I didn't realize that people might not attend a birth before they've finished their course work.  I think i would probably want someone who at least has been to 1 or 2 births before.  I have put out a request on a local forum i belong to and got a handful of responses.  One from a woman who is a mother, a student midwife, and will finish doula certification in the spring.  I am going to try talking with her more this weekend.  There is also a larger doula agency in my area that has 5 apprentices, which I think i will look into to. 

post #18 of 20
I think that most of the people you find who are attending births but are still doing certification course work, are people who have been attending births for a long time, and are certifying as an afterthought. That may be a pretty good doula to have, though wink1.gif
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jillgayle View Post

I was wondering what people's thoughts are about having a doula if you are birthing with a midwife at home or in a birth center?  Do you need both?  

 

Like GISDiva said, I think it depends (and not only on the situation, but on the personalities involved).  I WISH I had had a doula with my first (in the hospital) because DP was so overwhelmed and I was so out of it (tired and in pain) that several things happened that were unnecessary. With our homebirth I didn't feel that way at all.  BUT, my major issue was feeling like I *couldn't* do it--- at home you don't really have that option, lol, unless I was going to pack up and go to the hospital so where in the hospital when I was in pain I was met with, "Do you want drugs" at home I was met with, "you can do it" and it really wasn't an issue.  I've talked to people who used doulas at home/birth center and who didn't and most where happy with their decision.  It also depends largely on how you cope with pain *and* how private/ introverted a person you are.  Our current midwife wants to bring both a student and an assistant and, honestly, we're not too happy about *that* many people (we're trying to talk them down to just the student, which is what we had with DS).  Some people would be happy with 20 people in the birth room as long as they were all supportive!

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jillgayle View Post

I was wondering what people's thoughts are about having a doula if you are birthing with a midwife at home or in a birth center?  Do you need both?  

Midwifery was legislated in Alberta 4 years ago and it is paid for by our healthcare.  Since then, midwives have become much more medical.  One of the midwives in the group I have chosen has already been pushing medical monitoring during labour.  I think I am going to have a doula as well as my midwives at my birth.  However, I do not plan on calling the midwives until I am in active labour, lol, they may not make it.  

 

if you google interviewing doulas, you can look at checklists.  you can also go to DONA or CBI websites and they have all kinds of info for expecting mothers.  

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