Making the decision to hire a doula is just as important as selecting your caregiver and where you will give birth. The doula you choose will assist you in preparing for labor through at least one or two prenatal appointments, and will be there with you consistently through active labor, birth, and the first few postpartum hours.
If you are giving birth in a hospital and your labor bridges shift change, you will likely have multiple nurses caring for you, and while they are both competent and compassionate, they are often unable to provide continuous in-person support even though they may want to. Whomever you choose as your doula will be there for it all, so it is important that you find someone who will support and advocate for you, your partner, your birth plan, and with whom you are compatible.
Below are some good questions to ask when interviewing your potential birth doula. For even more in-depth information, visit http://www.childbirthconnection.org/resources/ or http://www.dona.org/mothers/how_to_hire_a_doula.php
1. What is the doula's training, education, and experience? Are they certified with DONA or another professional organization? (Note: certification is not required to practice as a doula)
2. Is there any type of birth they will not support? Home birth? Cesarean sections? Epidurals?
3. What are their thoughts and feelings about childbirth and their role as your support person?
4. If hired, what services do they provide? Prenatal appointments? Postpartum follow-up?
5. When will they begin their support during labor? Early labor? Active labor? Do they leave this up to the client?
6. Will they help you develop a birth plan and advocate for the adherence to it when you are in labor?
7. How often can you contact them during your pregnancy? Can you contact them after your baby is born?
8. What is their on-call policy for the time surrounding your due date? If they cannot attend your birth, is there a back-up available?
9. What is their fee? Do they offer sliding scale plans? Is there a deposit required? What is their cancellation/refund policy?
10. Will they provide references? What about referrals to other doulas if they are unable to accommodate you?
11. Will they provide referrals to other community resources, such as childbirth education, if they do not provide that service?