A doula is a woman who acts as an attendant or helper to a woman during childbirth or after her baby is born. Doulas are often distinguished by the titles birth doula and postpartum doula. The birth doula can help the expecting mother and her partner understand their options as they prepare for the birth of the child. She will also join with the partner and other family in taking care of the mother during the delivery of the baby. The postpartum doula will provide support to the family as they adjust to having a new baby at home. She can help mom learn how to take care of the child, teach techniques to keep mom and baby comfortable and relaxed during breastfeeding, and provide emotional support to parents and other children in the household.
There are many listings of doulas online that allow you to enter your city to locate women who are certified as birth doulas, postpartum doulas, or both. Doulas of North America (DONA) is one of many organizations that provides doula certifications. The first step in finding the right doula is making sure the woman you select is properly trained and able to provide the care you want and need.
Consider these basic questions when interviewing doulas:
• What training do you have? Are you certified by any organizations?
• Do you have backup doulas available in case you are not available when I go into labor? Can I meet with her/them in advance?
• What do you charge, what is included in the fee, and do you have a refund policy?
• Can you provide references that we can contact?
Consider these questions for potential birth doulas:
• What is your experience as a birth doula?
• What is your philosophy about being a doula? What is your main focus or goal during delivery?
• Can we contact you with questions prior to the day of delivery? Will you help us make our plan for the delivery?
• When will we see you on delivery day? Will you come to the house early in labor or meet us at the hospital?