The word “doula” comes from the Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” In modern times, it’s used to refer to a professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to the expectant mother before, during, and immediately following birth. Some research has shown that women who use doulas have shorter labor, fewer complications, and healthier babies.
A birth doula will assist the mother in preparation for the birth of her child, stick with her through labor, and provide information and support along the way. She is a nurturer and a protector. A postpartum doula helps the mother after birth in all aspects of having a new baby in the family.
So how do you go about hiring a doula?
If you have a friend or relative who has used a doula, you can listen to their recommendations. You should also ask your obstetrician or local birth center for referrals.
Once you find a few doulas in your area, start making phone calls. Before meeting face to face, ask them on the phone if they’re taking new clients during the month you’re due. Also find out about their experience, training, and fees. Each doula should also provide you with a few references you can contact.
When you’ve narrowed it down to two or three doula candidates, start conducting interviews. During the meeting, talk about your birth plan and find out what the doula’s role will be before, during, and after birth. You may want a doula who provides mostly emotional support and information. On the other hand, you may like a doula who is more physical – giving massages and other types of therapy.
Throughout the interview process, you’ll be able to determine which doula meets your needs and also meshes with your personality. Before signing any agreement or paying any fee, be sure to ask about the doula’s refund policy – just in case things don’t work out.