Picking a Doula- Part 1

I’ve been going on a fair number of interviews lately, which is really exciting for me!  I have met some amazing women and have more births to look forward to over the next few months.  Before each interview, as I am preparing my packet, I try to put myself in the shoes of the mom and consider what kinds of questions she will have for me so that I can be prepared with a thoughtful answer.  In an effort to learn more about where Mom is coming from, and to help any readers in their quest for a Doula, I asked Lisa to help me out.

The beautiful Lisa Deck from Before the Belly (my pseudo older sister) recently hired a Doula for her upcoming birth, and agreed to answer some questions for me about her process.  Now, I know every mom is going to have different needs, but Lisa is an “everywoman.”  She’s granola, but urban.  She’s natural, but understands the benefits of modern medicine and technology.  She’s open and smart and thoughtful.  Basically, she’s awesome!

Make sure you click on over to Lisa’s blog to read about her journey toward motherhood via IVF!

Kate:  When did you start doing your Doula research?

Lisa:  I started doing my research REALLY early, around 9-10 weeks.  This was on purpose.  I was trying to focus my energy somewhere positive during that scary 1st trimester when I had serious doubts about whether or not my pregnancy was going to “make it.”  This is my way of suggesting to the universe that it would.  It also gave me something to research on the internet other than early pregnancy symptoms.

How did you find out about Doulas?

My interest in birth started several years ago, long before I was married or planning to start my family.  I felt like a light bulb went off when I heard about how birth could be an empowering, beautiful experience rather than a scary medical procedure.  I started reading books and watching documentaries, much like I imagine you are doing now.  From what I learned, having a doula was a very important part of having a natural birth.

Why do you feel a Doula is important for your birth?

I feel really strongly that I want to try for a natural, unmedicated birth.  I also know that that puts me in the minority of hospital patients and that I will need a strong advocate to get where I am hoping to go.  Anything I can do to increase my chances of success, I’m willing to do.  And I also think the idea of having a woman experienced with natural birth, encouraging and guiding me, is such a comforting thought.

How many Doulas did you interview?

We interviewed 3 and all were awesome!  It was a really hard decision because I liked them all and could envision having a wonderful experience with each of them.

What questions did you ask them?

I asked a lot of questions.  🙂  I asked if she had experience with my midwife group and hospital where I planned to deliver.  I wanted to know if she would come to my house so that I could labor at home for awhile before going to the hospital.  I also wanted to know if she would be available if I went into labor prematurely.  One of the most intimate – and difficult – questions I asked was what her policy was if we lost the baby before birth.  I didn’t want to even imagine it, but I also wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t be locked into a contract we had to pay for if that happened.

Did you use a particular resource to find your pool of Doulas and the questions you asked them?

I did a lot of searching on the internet, reading yelp reviews and looking over the doulas’ websites.  I think I also searched mothering.com and other online communities to see if other people had recommendations.

Were there any red flags?

There really weren’t any red flags with any of the women I met.  I have a close friend who also interviewed a few doulas recently and she had a crazy/funny experience.  She and her husband went to the doula’s home to interview her, and when she opened the door, the doula put her hands in the air touching the top of the door and invited them to duck under and “birth” themselves into her home.  If that wasn’t strange one time, she made them do it again on their way out.  Here’s a tip: don’t do that.

How did you make your decision?

As I said, it was very difficult.  We narrowed it down to the two doulas we really clicked with.  One of them had a personality that reminded me more of me – warm, engaging and easy to talk to.  The other’s personality was a lot like my husbands – more cool, calm and collected.  I could really see the benefits of having either of them at our birth, and I really LIKED both of them.  But in the end, I decided it was the person who I could relate to the best that would be the person I was most comfortable with.  Besides, I already have one John, and one is usually enough.  🙂

What would you say to parents-to-be who are on the fence about hiring a Doula?

Well, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say once I go through the birth experience with a doula.  But I can say that I’ve learned that having a doula can reduce your risk of having a c-section or other interventions as well as helping you have a more empowering and satisfying birth experience.  I also know that having someone who really understands birth – what’s normal, what’s not, how to cope with pain, etc – is very comforting to me and John.  We have no idea what to expect, so it will be a relief, I think, to have someone there to gently guide us through the process.

**Check out this article from CNN.com.  It’s a bit dated, but it’s got great information about how to avoid a c-section (#5 is my favorite!)**

What are the top 3 things you think a new Doula should do or say at in interview?

One of the first questions I asked my doulas was “what is your role and how is it different from my husband’s role?”  I think that a doula should have a good answer for that.  Men need to hear that they are still going to be necessary if a doula is part of their birth.  Women also want to know that there is a reason to have someone other than their partner present.  I also like when people who are going to be involved in my birth ask me about myself and my story.  As you know, it’s taken a lot of effort for me to get where I am now.  I want my doula to know these things about me and care about getting to know both me and John personally.  On the flip side, I also want to know about her.  What her philosophy is or why she became a doula.  Anything that gives me insight to her personality.  Like I said, for us, it came down to personality.  So, it’s important to let who you are come through during an interview.

How is your pregnancy going?

Great!  I am in the “honeymoon” stage where I feel good again and not big and uncomfortable yet.  I have a cute belly going, but it’s not cumbersome.  I’m really enjoying everything about being pregnant right now.  And oh – feeling the kicks is the BEST ever.  I love it.

Any strange cravings?

Nothing terribly strange.  I had my first cheese steak sandwich (ever) which has become a new favorite.  I also have been snacking on pierogies. 🙂

Thanks so much for your insight Lisa!

If you live in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a Doula, contact Lisa and I am sure she would be happy to share her list with you to get you started.  Or you can visit www.dona.org to find a Doula near you!

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August 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Doula Stuff.

One Comment

  1. amy replied:

    i snack on pierogies all the time!

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