Far before we ever decided to switch to a home birth and find a midwife, we decided to get a doula. I want to say around month three we officially made our selection (yeah, it’s like a whole ass interview process to find the person you want to see you naked, spend however many hours with until your baby finally decides to grace you with his or her presence, rub your back when you’re going through a particularly painful contraction, and try to force feed you water and snacks.)
Having a doula was literally priceless. Not only did my doula team — more on that later — serve as therapists in the 24 hour period where I was deciding whether or not to fire my OB/GYN, they provided us valuable information in the form of Zoom classes (remember, pandemic life) with access to handouts, slide shows, and useful videos, but I swear on all that is holy in this world, I could not have gotten through my labor at home without having a doula. While I may sound a wee bit dramatic in that last sentence, to remind everyone, I had a 36+ hour labor process, my contractions were stupid long and without breaks, my mind turned to mush after being in pain for so long and not sleeping which means I forgot all of my coping techniques, Haroon was present the entire time but eventually needed to sleep, and my doula kept me moving, shifting, changing positions, and everything else to get my sweet baby boy Earth side as fast as we could.
I still talk to my doula — DeAnna — to this day (we are now over a year out since Enzo was born) and she will forever be like family to me. I never could have anticipated the strength of that relationship but DO YOUR HOMEWORK people, and you’ll find the person (or team) that just feels right, and on the big day(s), they will be JUST what you needed to get you through one of the most important — but sometimes challenging — times of your life. I promise.
Top 5 reasons to get a doula
- Your partner wants to support you through labor and delivery but has never done it before and wants help to do that WELL.
- This is pregnancy numero uno and though I hate to tell you this, labor will probably be longer than you’re anticipating so you want — read NEED — someone to help your family through this often lengthy process (doulas are there from start to finish). When your partner needs a rest… because let’s face it, they might… you will want to have someone there for you who knows how to help you better than anyone because this is literally what they do… they’re professional help-ladies-give-birth-people!
- This sounds kind of crazy, but because doulas spend all their time (I mean they have lives too, but you know what I mean) with people giving birth, there’s so many little signs and changes they will pick up on to help you through the process.
- You can find doulas who teach you what you need to know about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Childbirth classes are yet another “thing” to do when pregnant, so you might as well spend that time with your doula(s) getting to know them better and learning all the stuff. PLUS, this is a money saving point… if your doula doubles as your birthing class teacher, that’s a huge plus.
- Your doula learns your birth plan A, and B, and C and however many scenarios you come up with so they become your partner and advocate no matter how things change and develop during the process.
A few things to consider when selecting your doula(s)
- (This first point is VERY wordy… sorry.) There are different ways to hire birth doulas. I actually interviewed people from the various ways and then weighed the pros and cons of what that looked like for us. There are private doulas (that’s what I call them, not necessarily the term you search for in Google) who work for themselves and by themselves. They often have relationships with other private doulas who could fill in should they become ill or are unable to attend for any other reason. That being said, from the private doulas we spoke to, you would not meet their potential replacement should there need to be one unless that happened, which means you could end up with someone you’ve never met for your labor process. Additionally, a private doula stays the entire length of your labor and delivery process so I personally worried about the person being human (haha) and needing rest when I needed them. BUT, if you really click with your doula and can’t imagine doing the process with anyone else, this can be a really great option! There are doula agencies in which you hire a particular company and then they set you up with people to interview, follow-up on the interview process, and ultimately are in charge of making sure you have your doula when labor time arrives. The plus to these companies is that they tend to give you a résumé for each person they have you interview so you can compare your choices and make your selection. It seems that you usually also make back up selections should your doula become unavailable. The only real downside I saw going this route was the caliber of people we met. From both agencies we spoke to, we really liked the owners but the doulas we were set up with just didn’t measure up to the others we talked to. That is not to say that that would be the case with all agency doulas, just our experience. Lastly, and the route we chose, was working with a doula team/group. When you can find this option, it is kind of cool because you get to know an entire team (though in our case we only interviewed the owner who also was one of our doulas) and then you spend time getting to know the additional doulas so that whomever is on call when your labor takes place, you will feel comfortable with them. We liked this idea because rather than just having met your backup or receiving their name via email like some other private doulas and agencies mentioned, you actually know each person. We knew the owner best because we talked to her most and spent the most time with her in birthing classes, but the universe knew who we needed and the doula on the team we actually spent the least amount of time with before the “big day,” ended up being our primary doula! Outside of knowing each person on the doula team before delivery day, the next biggest pro in our mind was that the doulas only work 12 hour shifts meaning they’re never overly exhausted so they’re able to be SUPER present and helpful the entire time. Our “primary doula” came for her first shift, then the owner/doula came and relieved her and stayed for her 12 hour shift, and then our primary returned.
- Taking the time to interview each person is a must and I suggest asking every person you interview the exact same questions so you’re comparing apples to apples when making a decision.
- Share as much as you can about yourself, your needs, and how you envision your birthing process but understand that what you THINK you need may not be exactly what you thought… so pick a doula who is open to change and seems intuitive. Experience matters (duh!) but so does the the person’s vibe. My primary doula had the best vibes and I never would have known how much I needed her to help me — not just Haroon — during labor. I swear, she’s an angel on Earth.
- Know the average rates for your area for doula services and have a budget in mind in advance. Don’t waste time interviewing a doula who is out of your budget because that could be the one you decide you love most and being disappointed about any piece of your birthing process is not ideal.
- You can’t judge someone entirely by their website of course, but, pay attention to the vibes you get, how they speak about the birthing process, what they share about themselves and their experiences and so on.
Alright, and for the best part… I had to share MY primary doula’s information for those in the San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Stanislaus counties of California. She is no longer with the doula group that I worked with and falls into the private doula type now (rather than a doula group/team), but I truly couldn’t recommend her more. Click here to visit DeAnna’s website! Side note, she is also a professional photographer so we ended up having her do Baby E’s week one photography.
That’s a lot of information… But if I missed anything and you have questions, contact me! I spent a lot of time preparing for labor and delivery, and I love to share what I learned.
P.S. The first photo was taken by my talented doula during our week one session, and the second picture is Deanna and Enzo (and makes my heart so happy!)