Choosing a Labor Doula: Answers to Your Most-Asked Questions

What should you look for when hiring a doula?
Is she certified?
Certification by a national organization doesn't guarantee excellence, but it does validate that the doula has met some set of standards. On the other hand, lack of certification does not mean the doula is unqualified. For one thing, nationally based doula training programs have only existed for about a decade, and many doulas antedate their introduction. In any case, while certification serves as a useful benchmark, you will still wish to inquire about the doula's experience and background relevant to labor support.

What does she charge, and what is in her service package? Most doulas make one or more prenatal visits and one or more visits after the birth in addition to the time spent with you in labor. Most are also available over the phone for information, nonmedical advice or to act as a sounding board. Some doulas come to you whenever you mutually decide; others hold off until active labor. Some labor doulas provide in-home help after the birth as well. (There are also postpartum doulas who do nothing but help after the birth with light housekeeping, meals, baby care, breastfeeding assistance and so forth.)

How many clients does she take per month? If she takes more than a few clients per month, she may not be available when you go into labor, or she may arrive at your labor already drained and exhausted from another birth.

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