When Should You Hire a Doula in Pregnancy?

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The ideal time to hire a doula is as early in your pregnancy as possible. This allows both you and the doula to get to know one another and to discuss your plans for your pregnancy, labor, and birth as long as needed. It also gives you more time to explore the options that your doula may alert you to in your area.

How to Hire a Doula

The quick version is:

  • Interview at least a couple of doulas
  • Hire early to get full benefits
  • But don't worry if you have a late start. 

Some people even find a doula prior to pregnancy. This may be because she has used this doula before or another doula in a previous pregnancy and wishes to have a doula at the next birth.  You may also see this if a person is looking for a specific type of pregnancy or birth experience and is hoping that a doula will be able to help her find resources.

Many women wonder if it is too late to find a doula. While looking earlier in pregnancy assures you that you have a wider selection of doulas from which to choose, there are always benefits to trying to find a doula, even if you were past your due date. While your choices may be more limited due to call schedules that are already filled, it is certainly worth the effort to ask. Many of the doulas may now have free space in their calendars because of previous clients that have already delivered. Or there may be an option of using a doula in training if no one else is available.

When hiring a doula it is best to check as many candidates as you feel comfortable with checking. My advice is to always look at at least two or three doulas. You can begin by looking at their websites. This is often a great place to get a feel for the doula in question. She may or may not list her prices, but she will likely list the services that are included in her fees. She may also talk a bit about her philosophy of birth and perhaps some of her doula history in terms of where she has done births and with which practitioners. Once you have narrowed it down to a handful of doulas, I would send emails or make phone calls.

A quick discussion on the phone about her availability for your due date and some other quick questions are appropriate for this phone conversation. If the answers meet with your satisfaction, ask if you could have an interview in person. You should have again at least two or three interviews with various doulas with your partner present. This ensures that both of you feel like you can work with the doula at your birth.

Interview Potential Doulas

During the interview process, a doula may give you a contract to look over. This contract will spell out what the doula will provide at your labor and birth. It may also talk about other services that she may provide for an additional fee. This may include childbirth classes, massage therapy, breastfeeding consultations, etc. Not all doulas have additional skill sets that they bring to the table. This is not necessary for someone to be a good doula. A contract will also tell you about the fee payment schedule. Most doulas have a down payment portion of their fee that is due prior to your birth and the balance due on your due date And the vast majority of doulas accept payment plans and or are willing to work with you by bartering. If you were having trouble paying for a doula, do not be afraid to ask for alternate arrangements.

It is important that you pick a doula who has doula skills that work for you and what your personal needs are. Just because somebody else used Julie Doula does not mean that Julie Doula is the right doula for your labor and birth. You would want to interview Julie as well as other doulas.  One of the biggest things when choosing a doula is how your personalities mesh. Some people like very quiet reserved doulas, while others prefer those with the sparkly personality who could be a good cheerleader in labor. Be sure to ask what their personality and doula's style is for labor.

in the end, cover your bases. Talk to a few people. Remember that the most important skill she may have is that it simply feels like the right match. 

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  • Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5