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

What are her backup arrangements? Every doula should have backup, because there is always the possibility she may have another obligation or be ill at the time you go into labor. You may wish to speak with or meet with her backup.

Does she have any limitations on where she will go or which doctors and midwives she works with? She may have geographic limitations. Some doulas also choose not to attend births in certain hospitals or work with certain care providers either because the approach to labor and birth runs so contrary to her own or the staff or care provider opposes using doulas.

Will she provide references? She should provide references at your request.
Take a look at the referral areas at these sites:
-- Doulas of North America (DONA)
-- Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA)
-- Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE)
-- International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)

Childbirth educators often know the local doulas, or they may attend labors themselves. Ask friends or relatives who have had a doula for recommendations. Doulas may advertise in local parenting publications. The yellow pages of your phone book may have listings as well.

Interviewing doula candidates

Once you have narrowed down the field to one or a few candidates, you and your partner should conduct a face-to-face interview before committing to a particular doula. The value of the interview is not so much her answers to your questions, but the opportunity to gauge whether she feels like the "right" person for you. As you may imagine (or already know), labor is an intimate, vulnerable time, so both you and your partner should feel comfortable with her. Here are some questions you might ask:

-- How do you see your role at the birth?
-- What special strengths do you feel you have?

-- What tools and comfort measures do you bring with you to the birth?

-- How do you feel about the use of pain-relief medication in labor?

In addition, you will want to review your plans, preferences and concerns about the birth with her as well as any cultural or religious issues that might have an impact on your care.

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