Doulas: Choosing the right one for you

Tenille is seeking an experienced doula to help with her birth experience.

Tenille waits for an ultrasound.

The question of whether to hire a doula had never crossed my mind. Actually, until very recently I had only a vague idea that doulas existed, and had absolutely no idea of what they did. But then the topic started cropping up in unexpected ways. First, I wrote about doulas for the March issue of Today’s Parent. Then more and more friends started asking the “D” question.

I wasn’t convinced. Women have been giving birth for, well, as long as there have been women, right? Why would we need to have additional help? We already had people to monitor the medical side of things, and each other for hand-crunching, heavy breathing and the rest. A doula seemed so extraneous, especially with some of the hefty price tags that can be involved.

Still, I’m a curious person, and soon I was noodling around the Internet to see what was in our area. A quick search led me to Doula CARE, and I soon found a list of accredited doulas in my region. (Unlike many parts of the country, southwest Ontario is quite well served.)

Now, choosing a doula is a lot like finding a good hairstylist. Each can do the job, but will they give you the style you want? You don’t want to go in seeking a trim and walk out with a mullet, as it were. Various websites and Facebook pages gave me an idea of each doula and what practices they hold most dear. (Do they specialize in home and water births? Avoid all interventions? Provide before and after birth visits?) After narrowing down a few people that seemed my style, I emailed for information about pricing and services. Of the responses I got back, one really stood out from the rest. She was friendly, approachable and really open about details, including costs and services. As a frank and forthright Aussie, this was exactly what I was hoping for. The fact she was charging about half the price other doulas were quoting was an added bonus, given that I’ll be unemployed once the twins arrive.

But the biggest bonus of all, it turns out, is how absolutely wonderful this woman is, and how dedicated she promises to be to us and our brewing bubs. (She also looks a bit like my big sister, which is a huge comfort for an expat.) It hadn’t occurred to me until our initial consultation, but I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing here! I’ve never given birth, and have never seen anyone give birth, and yet somehow I believed I wouldn’t need anyone experienced to be on hand to help me out? Was I mad?

Thankfully, I’m mad no longer. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and some women likely have this support from a midwife. But come the crazy rush of birth, I’m glad our doula will be in our corner, reminding me to eat, my husband to sleep, and all the rest.

Did you hire a doula for your birth? How did that impact your birth experience?

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