How to Choose the Right Doula (Birth Coach) for You?
Choosing a birth coach is one of the most difficult decisions you will make during your pregnancy. Choosing a doula is even harder because there are so many options available! There are professional birth coaches, self-employed doulas, and homebirth midwives. Some choose to hire someone else to do their birthing at home while they go out with friends or work from home. Others prefer to have a doula accompany them throughout the whole labor and delivery process. A doula can be anything from a trained professional who provides support during labor and birth, to someone who just sits quietly listening to you while you’re having contractions or pushing.
The choice is yours!
There are several things to consider when selecting a doula:
Experience – What experience does she/he have in helping women through childbirth? Does it include working with pregnant women or expectant mothers? Are they certified professionals? Do they provide services outside of the United States? Do they offer ongoing education and continuing care after the birth of their clients’ babies? If yes, then why not offer such service to other expecting moms too?
Personality – How do you get along with this person? Are they pleasant to talk to? Would you like them to be with you in the days leading up to your delivery? During the process of labor and birth? Do you feel that you can relate to this person on a personal level? Do you think that this person has similar interests or a similar outlook on life as you do?
If not, then it may prove to be difficult to communicate with this person.
Services Offered – What services does this person offer?
Some professional doulas will only provide emotional support during labor and birth while others will actively participate in the actual process of birth itself.
Does your potential doula offer specialized support for certain kinds of pregnancies such as high-risk or those involving multiple births such as twins, triplets or more? Does this person offer nutritional and dietary advice? Does she provide guidance on infant care?
Costs – How much does this person charge? Is payment made up front or after services are rendered? Is a deposit required? Is there a sliding scale for low-income families? Are there any other costs involved such as travel expenses? Do you have any health insurance that might help cover the costs of this doula’s fees? What forms of payment does this person accept? Credit? Debit? Cash? Check?
Availability – When are they available to help you? Are they available 24 hours a day or just during office hours? Are there certain days that they are off or unavailable? Do you have to wait for them to travel to your location or will they come to you?
Some doulas have limitations on how far they’ll travel. Some require flights to and from their location to be paid for by the client.
Interview – Do you need to interview this person?
Many professional doulas require a short interview with each of the potential clients. Some will come to your home while others insist on conducting the interview over the phone. Be sure to ask if there is an additional fee for this service.
After choosing a few potential candidates, it’s time to set up interviews. It’s best to speak with each of them in person or at the very least over the phone, but sometimes this isn’t always possible. If that’s the case, then read over their website, brochures, and other material they provide you with and try to determine if their personality and qualifications mesh well with your needs.
If you can meet them in person, consider taking a friend or family member with you for their own peace of mind. If meeting them at their place of business, be sure to arrive early so you can review their brochures, business cards, website, etc. and take note of what you’re seeing.
If meeting them at their home, try to find out as much as you can about the location.
Is it safe? Is it clean? If not, why not?
Ultimately, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with them. Choose the one that seems to best fit your personal needs. After getting to know them better, you can always change professionals if you feel it’s in your best interest.
What Happens During Labor?
As your due date approaches, you and your partner should spend some time familiarizing yourselves with the basics of childbirth and infant care. Read books from the library on the subject. Watch videos. Spend time on a parenting website or app. If you’re a father, it’s especially important for you to prepare yourself for the experience. Many fathers are unsure of how to help their partner during this special moment and some don’t even attend the birth because they’re afraid of the unknown.
Remember, childbirth is designed to be a natural experience. It’s best if you (and your partner) try to relax, take some deep breaths, and work with your body. Focus on keeping your partner relaxed and encouraging her. Your presence alone will probably be enough to help her through the experience as most women find support from their loved ones to be very motivating.
After your bundle of joy has made their arrival, the new father (or mother) should try to cut the umbilical cord which attaches the baby to the mother. This is a special moment for a father as this is quite possibly the first time he’s held his child. He should gently wipe off any fluids that the baby may have coming out of its nose and mouth before announcing the baby’s gender and weight to the medical staff or midwife. He should then assist in cleaning the baby and wrapping it in a blanket before presenting it to the mother for bonding.
If you don’t feel comfortable cutting the umbilical cord, you can pass this task on to the medical staff or midwife.
Who Should I Take To The Hospital?
You’ll want to take someone with you to the hospital when you go into labor. This is usually a family member or a close friend. Whoever you choose, they should be familiar with your general schedule so that they don’t end up waiting at the hospital too long for you to give birth.
When choosing a companion, keep these things in mind:
Make sure this person is going to be available on your big day. You don’t want to choose someone who is going to flake out on you.
Make sure this person is going and able to drive you to the hospital at some ungodly hour in the morning. You don’t want to be stuck taking a bus when you’re contractions are only two minutes apart.
Make sure this person isn’t going to be a complete pain in the neck to be around for an extended period of time (at least until the real fun starts). You don’t want an argument to break out in the middle of your hallway because Aunt Thelma won’t stop bitching about how you’re not doing something right.
Make sure this person isn’t going to accidentally walk in on you while you’re giving birth and scream like a little girl. (Unless the person is into that sort of thing. In which case, more power to you).
Sources & references used in this article:
The Doula Advantage: Your Complete Guide to Having an Empowered and Positive Birth with the Help of a Professional Childbirth Assistant by R Gurevich – 2012 – books.google.com
Birth Partner 5th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by MH Klaus, JH Kennell, PH Klaus – 2002 – Da Capo Lifelong Books
Beyond holding hands: The modern role of the professional doula by P Simkin – 2018 – books.google.com
“Going beyond the call of doula”: A grounded theory analysis of the diverse roles community-based doulas play in the lives of pregnant and parenting adolescent … by BARBARAKATZ ROTH – Laboring On, 2013 – Routledge