If the term "doula" is new to you, you're probably wondering what the difference is between a doula and a midwife. While a midwife is different from an obstetrician in that they provide more intimate care than a regular doctor, a doula is different from a midwife in that doulas provide most of their care in your home. A doula is a birthing companion, providing physical and emotional support for you and your partner. A doula will help through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period but does not actually deliver the baby. Hiring a doula can make your birth a truly memorable experience for both of you.
Gone are the days when men were asked to sweat it out in the waiting area while their wives gave birth alone in a delivery room. Part of finding the right doula is finding one that will include your partner into the birthing plan. This way, the birth can be a moment shared between the two of you forever.
How did you become a doula?
Don't be afraid to ask about your potential doula's background. Finding out what drew them to the profession is a great way to start off your relationship and is an easy way to set your mind at ease about what they do.
Do you have specific beliefs about medication during childbirth?
Many women feel differently about how they want to bring their children into the world. Some feel that natural birth with no medication is the only way they want to go, while others believe that if needed, the mother shouldn't have to suffer needlessly in what should be a moment of joy. You should make sure both you and your doula see eye to eye on this topic.
What kinds of support do you offer throughout pregnancy and the birth?
Most doulas offer services to support you throughout your entire pregnancy and the birth, but services may vary. Ask the doula what services and support they offer and choose the one that most closely matches your own needs and expectations.
Do you offer support or services for after my baby is born?
Some doulas continue their support and services postpartum, including breastfeeding support services. Ask any potential doulas whether they offer these services following the birth, and for how long.
Do you offer your services for hospital births?
While most doulas only work with natural home births, many are now offering services for hospital deliveries, as well. If you plan on giving birth in a hospital, ask potential doulas whether they will work with you during a hospital delivery.
How will you support me during the delivery of my baby?
All doulas support the mother during the delivery, but there are variations on how involved a doula will be in the birthing process. Ask potential doulas how involved they will be in the process and in what ways they will support you through the birth and afterward. This will make it easier to choose a doula that will work best with your own needs.
Is there a doula you recommend?
Getting a personal recommendation can make the search for the right doula go a lot more smoothly. This will give you first-hand information from a trusted source, which can alleviate any anxiety over hiring someone to help in the birth of your baby.
Can you ensure you'll be available for the birth of my baby?
Hiring a doula comes with the assumption they'll be there for the actual birth of your baby, so make sure to ask about any potential schedule conflicts near your due date. Since your little one could come as early as two or three weeks ahead of schedule or after your due date, it's best to make sure your doula will be available for the month before and after your due date, as well.
What will happen if I end up needing medical intervention or a cesarean during the birth?
Ask your doula what her role will be if you require any sort of medical intervention or need to have a c-section delivery. While planning for the ideal delivery is important, it's also important to know what to expect if things don't go according to plan. Most doulas will accompany you to the hospital in the event medical intervention is needed, but find out before you choose who to hire as your doula.