A doula, whose sole purpose is to support and comfort women and their partners during labor, delivery, and the postpartum period, can help you have the positive birth experience that you desire. So, how can you find a doula that's just right for you? Here are some tips on what to consider, what to ask, and what to expect.
Sarah Clark, childbirth educator and birth-focused blogger
"The Internet is amazing and vast and helpful, but despite all the connecting benefits of our modern world, there are some things that can really benefit from a personal touch. One of these things is choosing a doula. Your relationship with your doula will be a personal one, and develop at a very tender and emotional time—pregnancy and childbirth. Asking friends, your midwife, or your birthing class instructor for suggestions will help you find someone you like. Bear in mind that your doula will likely deal as much with your birth partner (a.k.a. Dad) as she will with you, though, so it's crucial to choose someone you both feel comfortable with. Make the decision together."
Desiree Fawn, birth doula and childbirth educator
"If you don't have friends or family members who can recommend a doula they've liked, a visit to doulamatch.net is a great way to find birth workers in your area. Feel free to set up initial interviews with several doulas to be sure you find a match that works well for you. Most doulas will offer free consultations to go over their services, and to be sure that your personalities, desires, and ideas match. It's important to find someone who makes you feel completely at ease. Next, be sure to ask prospective doulas about their experience, training and what their services include. Asking to see a contract can seem rather formal, but will give you a very good idea about what to expect from working with them. It's also a good idea to ask your doula about any other services they may offer; many can and will provide breastfeeding assistance, postpartum care, baby-wearing demonstrations or advice on cloth diapering. Your doula can offer a wealth of information, in addition to serving as an integral part of your birthing team!"
Jonathan Rapaport, blogger, Daddy Confidential
I've heard anecdotally that some dads think a doula might cramp their style. Not so. (As if guys have an L&D style! And if you have to work out what "L&D" stands for, dads, you definitely want a doula on your team.)
A female friend of mine told me about doulas—I'd never heard of them—and convinced me to help my wife choose one. For some reason, they're seen in our society as a luxury, but I now believe their attendance should be mandatory! Our doula Angie was like some secret weapon we deployed in the hospital. Equal parts Sherpa, coach, advocate, and sensei, Angie possessed expertise and techniques for coping with labor. She was the only person in the delivery room whose primary concern was my wife. This freed me up to be as excited, nervous, supportive, or freaked out as the situation demanded. (I was all of those things, except for nervous! Turns out I'm a cool customer—but I'm sure having Angie there to manage everything contributed to that!)