March 26, 2015
So you have read about or heard about birth doulas and decided you want to have a doula at your birth. The search for your doula begins and may bring up a whole new set of questions. How do you decide if a doula is right for you? There are some things to keep in mind as you search for a doula.
The first thing is certification, you see doulas that say they are certified with DONA, others say they are certified with Prodoula, CBI, BAI, or another organization, but you aren't quite sure what all of that means. At this time doulas are not required to be certified to be a doula. Therefore, there are many organizations that a doula can choose to certify with. Each organization has differing criteria for certification. Unless you research each organization, a doula being certified doesn't tell you much about the process they went through. There are also seasoned doulas that choose not to certify with any organization. An important thing to look for is if the doula has attended a training. You should go more in depth with your questions when you interview them and gauge their knowledge of birth and how they can support you. There are exceptional doulas out there that are not certified and there are some not so great doulas that are certified. If you are more comfortable with a certified doula it would be a good idea to read up on the philosophy of the organization they are certified with and see if that aligns with your beliefs.
Another thing you may be asking is how many births has the doula attended? While attending births definitely gives a doula more experience and knowledge it does not necessarily define how good they are as a doula. I would suggest looking at the entire picture, how many births they have attended, their relationship with care providers, what their previous clients are saying, and the overall feeling you get with their level of experience. That being said, all doulas have to start out somewhere. Most doulas study in depth and attend trainings before attending births. There could be a newer doula in your area that meets all of your expectations. Inviting someone into your birth space is an intimate thing and you should feel comfortable and confident in that persons ability to support you. Asking questions to see how they would handle specific situations might give you a better idea on their level of experience. Now, if it is important to you that a doula has attended a certain amount of births, that's ok too.
Lastly, a doula is a part of your birth team and should work with your team to help you achieve a satisfying birth. When you are looking over a website, Facebook page, or interviewing a potential doula, pay attention to their language. Ask how they support your birth partner and what they do to include the birth partner. Ask how they work with providers. In the end you should choose a doula that you feel comfortable with and that leaves you feeling energized, empowered, and confident to achieve the birth you envision.