5 Must Ask Questions For Your Doula
So you’d like a doula to support you for birth? Well, you’re already heading down the right track for a supported and informed birth. Next you need to find YOUR DOULA!
There’s a few ways to start your search. You might have had a recommendation from a friend or seen a doula posting in local groups. A list of Australian Doulas can be found here in The Doula Directory.
If you have a private midwife or private birth class provider they’ll also have doula’s that they either know personally or have worked with.
If you reach out to a doula that aligns with you and they don’t have availability, ask them for their recommendations as it’s likely they’ll suggest someone that aligns with them too.
As a doula myself, I encourage clients to prepare a list of things they would like to ask me. We set aside a time to chat about what they are looking for and what I provide. I’m clear about the types of births I usually attend and how booking and paying for my services would work. Luckily I have a great website so generally people refer to my website when chatting about their needs. Janet The Birthplace Doula
What are your qualifications and experience as a doula?
Bearing in mind that a doula role is non medical and does not require any formal training, it is worth asking this question to ascertain the amount of experience a doula has. Myself, I’ve officially worked as a doula for 3 years however really enjoyed the training I undertook with Childbirth International. I predominantly work with hospital birthing and often my clients have history of trauma. I’m very comfortable within this realm as I have also worked as a nurse for 20 years. The kind of birth you are planning should be the kind of birth your doula loves to attend. While experience and training is wonderful, its not necessary and your relationship with the doula is more important.
How do you support clients during labour and birth?
This question can be asked easily by asking the doula to describe what happens when I go into labour. Sometimes a doula will visit you at home during early labour, while others would meet you at the hospital. If you are planning a homebirth, ask at what point would your doula join you and if they will attend hospital with you if you transfer.
Comfort measures are great topics to cover as some doulas will have labour positioning, rebozo and massage skills while others provide more emotional support , holding space for the birth. How can your doula support your birth partner? Doula’s don’t replace the support of a partner but rather enhance it.
Speak to the doula about any concerns or considerations you may have with your birth partner.
I want an X,Y,Z birth, how can you support me to achieve that?
This question is loaded with possibilities. For example, If you are planning a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) there are considerations that should be discussed like your care provider to increase your chance of success. This question gives the doula the opportunity to answer if they are best suited for your birth.
For example, If you told me you wanted a freebirth, I would refer you to my shortlist of freebirth loving doulas as I am not the best person to attend given my medical background. Most doulas will talk about increasing your knowledge and confidence around birth, having a robust birth plan and preparing for success.
How do you communicate with clients and their healthcare providers?
Most doulas are available for phone, text and email. We do sleep at times so ask your doula if they have a preferred method of communication. Doula’s will also generally meet you a couple of times before birth. These visits are generally birth education, birth planning and fostering a lovely working relationship.
While doula’s do not communicate on your behalf with health provider, there is definitely times within a birth that care providers will ask the doula questions. Asking this question give your doula an opportunity to demonstrate the level of advocacy they are comfortable delivering.
Doula’s cannot “save” you from the system however they can increase your confidence and knowledge to know how to ask for more information, time or decline an intervention all together.
What is your availability for prenatal meetings, labour and delivery, and postpartum support?
Some doulas have a maximum they will spend at a birth before they need a break to rest or they may have a back up doula. It’s worth asking what would happen if my labour was very long? What do you do if you get sick?
If you require postpartum support that is in addition to birth support so you’d need to discuss if your doula has the availability for a number of weeks support after birth. Some doulas have set times they are available for postpartum support, it’s good to know what their availability is before you engage.
There are ALOT more questions to ask…
All of the above are surface level questions, basic and practical. Deeper birth spirituality and experiences require specific questions based around your beliefs.
A doula does not want to attend a birth they are not aligned with so being upfront and honest with your expectations pays off in the long run. It’s also ok if your doula identifies they are not the doula for you. This is a very positive step in the direction of the best doula for you.
You deserve to be surrounded by people you trust and who care that you feel supported and safe. Tailor your questions to the birth experience you are planning.
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