How to find the perfect Doula for you
What is a Doula?
'Doula' is a Greek word meaning 'woman caregiver'. A Doula is a birthing companion, who provides emotional support and care for the mother before the birth, as well as during and after. the relationship between a new mother and a Doula can be a deeply comforting one, and the presence of a Doula can help ease a new family into learning to adapt to their new child.
Finding a Doula
There is no right or wrong way to find your Doula; word-of-mouth, websites or even an advertisement in the local paper can all yield good results. how to find a Doula is not as important as finding the right one for you.
A Doula is essentially providing a service, and will need to be paid for their time. This is obviously a factor in your choice, but you shouldn't be motivated by cost alone. Your Doula will be spending a lot of time with you and it's important you choose one who's trustworthy, honest, and above all; compatible with your family.
Don't be afraid to ask a prospective Doula questions. Such questions could include:
- How long have you been a Doula?
- What made you decide to become a Doula?
- What prior experience do you have?
- What skills do you feel you bring to the role of a Doula?
- Do you have children of your own?
There are literally thousands of questions you could ask, both about the Doula's personality and their work ethic. Don't forget to ask about things like ante-natal appointments (some Doulas will come with you to these if you wish), making birth plans, and availability around your due date. You will need to agree a way of contacting your Doula should labour start early, and if you have any questions before, during and after the birth. A good Doula will be attentive, friendly and listen to all questions before answering them in a reassuring manner.
Sometimes a new mother needs prolonged support in the form of a post-natal Doula. This Doula may not be the same one you had leading up to the birth as not all Doulas offer post-natal services. It's a question worth asking at the start if you think you may want to have this continued support after the baby comes. Certainly it can help a new mother, having a trained, experienced companion around to assuade any worries and generally cope with the little worries so you can concentrate on bonding with your new baby. Some post-natal Doulas will help out with housework, cooking, and shield the new mother from an influx of well-wishers when she's just too tired to face them.
A post-natal Doula will also prove useful of you have older children; they can help explain to siblings about the new baby, and keep them occupied so little jealousies don't form.
In short, a Doula can be viewed as having your mother there looking after you, but without the emotional stress which new grandmothers sometimes bring!
Some useful Doula links
- DONA International
The US Doula site, offering a search, testimonials and advice all about Doulas in the USA.
- Doula UK
If you're in the UK, this is a useful website to find yourself a Doula. It also offers handy hints and advice, much of which is echoed in this hub, about finding and screening a Doula.
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