Doula Talk: What to Consider When Hiring a Doula

So you're pregnant and considering hiring a doula. Maybe you knew all about doulas for months before you were expecting or maybe this is all new to you! You know that you're inviting this person into your birth space and those first few vulnerable and sweet weeks postpartum...what should you consider when hiring them?

What is more important: how many births they've attended, what kind of training and certifications they have? Or their personality and whether you vibe with them? Of course their fee has a lot to do with your decision. If you qualify for Medicaid and are located in Richmond, be sure to check out Urban Baby Beginnings to connect with a volunteer birth or postpartum doula. (You can self refer on their website).

If you're able to afford the standard birth doula fee of $500-1000 or postpartum fee of $25/hour, you can find yourself with a long list of potential available doulas! ( Many doulas offer payment plans, reduced packages, and other ways of offering their services on a sliding scale. If you have questions about the cost of a birth doula, check out this blog post where we talk about getting covered by insurance and other questions about what goes into a birth doula fees.)

We asked some of our members (many of whom entered the birth world by hiring their own doula for their pregnancies) what they think is important to consider when hiring a birth or postpartum doula. Here are their four major themes to consider.

As doulas, we consider being hired an honor, and we know that being invited into this time of your life is a very special decision!

Birth is transformative. Being invited into that completely vunerable and intimate space is a gift. -Linda Zaffram, Healing Circle Counseling and Services

Nonjudgmental support

Finding someone who doesn't necessarily share your values (though that can be a huge bonus) but can demonstrate that they will respect your values and support your decisions w/o judgement.  -Donna Westcott, A Sweet New Life Doula Services

Professionalism

Someone who values your time and is timely in getting back to you! Nobody should worry about if their Doula got their message and when they'll hear back! -Lauren Patterson, Lovely Birth Services

Good Vibe

Lots of our members expressed the idea that finding someone who you can get along with is crucial! So much of doula support is emotional support. Can you imagine sharing your fears and anxieties with this person? I tried to think of a better term for this than "good vibe" but I actually think that's the best way to sum it up!

Someone you vibe with! -Jessica Turner, Peaceful Prenatal
Finding someone who you and your partner can connect with on a personal level, to me, is more important than how many births they have attended or how many families they've served as a postpartum doula, or which additional trainings they have or haven't taken. -Cat Sears, Birthing From Within Richmond
Someone you can be yourself around and feel most at ease with. Even if they have the most experience, if your personalities don't jive, then you'll feel stressed when they arrive. I loved sitting down over coffee and catching up with my doula well after my son was born, and I think my families feel the same way. -Elise Benoit, Language of Birth Collective

Partner Input

Don't forget that doulas work with partners throughout birth and postpartum. This is their birth too--they are becoming parents also. Who do they click with? 

I also think that if partner is present, his or her input matters a lot! Who do they click with? -Cat Sears, Birthing From Within Richmond
Not just the mother is having a child--the partner is as well and their needs are just as important. -Linda Zaffram, Healing Circle Counseling and Services

Interviewing and hiring a doula can be a really stressful event, or you can just have fun with it and go with your gut. Who do you click with? Who does your partner click with? Who seems professional and supportive? If you'd like a list of birth and postpartum doulas tailored to your due date, your place of birth, and even tailored to what you're looking for in a doula, be sure to contact us, and follow us on Facebook for info on our upcoming Meet the Doulas nights. Richmond Doulas is a nonprofit that is here to help support you during your childbearing year.

Sarah Hendricks summed up all of these themes with her statement:

Look for a doula who is supportive of the birth that you want, has good timely communication, and whom you connect with and feel comfortable with. -Sarah Robinson-Hendricks, DouLife RVA