Ask any questions that are relevant
- Is she certified?
- When did she become certified or why is she not?
- How many births has she attended?
- How many clients does she usually take in a month (any more than 5 clients in a month is a red flag)?
- How much will she charge, does she have a sliding scale, what is the payment schedule?
- Does the payment change if she is unable to attend or if you end up needing a c-section? If it doesn't work out can you get a refund or find someone else who might work for you?
- Does she have other services available like belly casting, placenta encapsulation, photography, breastfeeding services, babysitting, or postpartum services?
- Does she have a back up, can you meet them?
Get to know your doula on a personal level
- Is she married, if so how long?
- Does she have children, how many, how does she feel about her birth experience?
- Why did she become a doula?
- What is her overall philosopy on birth?
- Did she breastfeed, how long, how does she feel about it?
Build a relationship
You should have at least 2 prenatal appointments with your doula. During these appointments you'll probably go over things she'll do to help you along during labor and if complications arise. Also during these times you should begin to get comfortable with her touching you in case massage, hair stroking, or counter pressure are used to comfort you during labor so you can let her know what you do and do not like beforehand and to build the comfortableness with her. If you would like she may have relaxation techniques to practice too which would be helpful so you know you can completely relax in front of her. Personally, I found an included belly casting session really helped me open up and get comfortable with my doula.
If at any point you are not comfortable with your doula: First determine if the issue can be resolved and try to fix it. If you think it is something that will affect your ability to remain comfortable with your doula for future appointments and/or during labor, birth, or postpartum then you should talk to her respectively and tell her you just can't do it; She may know someone else available that you may be comfortable with.
If you are a doula or want to become a doula: The steps also apply to you but from a different standing point. Try to give your client as much information as possible so that the family can feel comfortable with you; like a friend rather than business. Reassure partners that you aren't there to take their place, but rather to help them help the mother or step in when they need a break. Beware them that you can not speak for them, you are not a medical professional, and can not give medical advice; You are simply there to support the family and help comfort the mother.