You’ve read all the books and you’ve talked to lots of people and you know you need a doula…

But how do you pick one?!

1. Ask about their credentials (and decide if it matters to you).

In general, there are three types of doulas.

A Doula can be anyone who has the knowledge and skills to assist birthing people and their families.

A Trained Doula is someone who has gone through a formal training or has “apprenticed” under someone to either deepen their knowledge and skills or learn them in the first place.

A Certified Doula is someone who has gone through a training and completed a certification process (requirements vary, but most often they include attending a certain number of births, reading lots of different material, earning positive reviews, and more).  

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I started working as a doula before attending a training or becoming certified and I feel confident in saying I don’t think any of my clients knew or cared that I wasn’t “certified.” There are plenty of wonderful doulas who aren’t. But if certification matters to you, ask about the doula’s credentials and do a bit of research on the organization.  

2. Ask friends, family, and providers for references.

It’s sometimes easy to find a doula you’ll click with if the people you click with recommend her. But maybe not! The birth experience you want may be different from your friend. Maybe her doula specialized in home births and you really will be more comfortable with a hospital birth. Ask around! And while you’re at it… ask about their birth stories too. Often the only birth stories you know are the ones you see on TV or movies and 98% of those are not real.

3. Ask about their availability and accessibility.

Your doula should not only be available around your due date, but you should also be able to get in touch with them. What is their policy about emails, calls, or texts? Does this doula prefer the same methods of communication you do? You should feel confident that when your baby decides they’re ready to be born, your doula will answer the call.

That being said… sometimes doulas are at births for days at a time. If you don’t receive a response to an emailed inquiry right away, give her time to eat, sleep, and get to a computer to respond.

4. Ask about their philosophy around pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and life.

We’re all human... and as much as your doula should be there to support you and your wishes, it’s normal and natural for each of our interactions to be clouded by our own biases and experiences. Other than your partner, your doula is your biggest support throughout pregnancy and birth so you should know where she’s coming from and be comfortable with that.  

5. Trust your gut.

In one interview, a dad-to-be asked why they should choose me and not another doula in our area. I told them it was entirely up to them because we have so many incredible doulas here that I knew they would be well supported with whoever they chose, but they should pick the person who feels right to them.

Pregnancy and birth are such an intimate times and the people you allow into that space should make you feel at ease. There isn’t a special training or magic potion for that… it’s just an innate connection and trusting your instinct when you’ve found it.

My wish for families is that they have a team that makes them feel like they could take over the world. And while I’d love to work with all parents, I’m also happy to refer them to other doulas if they feel like I’m not the right fit for them.