The Triangle is an area of North Carolina that’s rich with resources for birth doula support. After you sort through the profiles, read past client reviews, and narrow down your top choices, you’ll schedule consultations with your favorites.
But, how do you figure out if the person you’re sitting down with is *the* person you’ll want supporting you during one of the most vulnerable times of your life?
Here are a few really good questions for making the most of your consultation time and quickly assessing whether the doula you’re interviewing is the best fit for your birth goals.
Tell us about your training and why you chose it.
In the absence of accreditation or licensure for professional doulas, there are many, many training and certification options available; and they are not all created equally. Plus, there are many doulas who have not been formally trained at all.
While certainly not all professional doulas pursue eventual certification, they should be trained by a qualified, long-standing organization which offers the doula a Code of Ethics and a Scope of Practice by which they should abide. For example, every Emerald Doula has been trained and is certified or working towards certification through trusted and well-respected training organizations DONA International, CAPPA, and Doula Trainings International.
Ask your potential doula to describe their training organization and why they chose it. Was the training mostly in-person or online? In addition to the training, what other requirements does their organization require? Books? Client reviews? Provider reviews of their work? Their answer may provide you with insight on what they value and how much effort they’ve put into their pursuit to become a professional doula.
Bonus: Ask about any specialized training or continuing education they’ve invested in. From rebozo work to massage techniques, bereavement services to mindfulness and meditation workshops, these advanced trainings are where doulas can set themselves apart in their interests and experience.
What happens if you’re with another client when I go into labor? Who will support me?
Instead of asking how many clients your doula already has around your due date, ask what happens if they are unable to attend your birth. Due dates are fickle things, and as we like to say, they’re not wedding dates. Even if your doula takes only one client per month, there’s still a possibility they’ll be at another birth when you go into labor. So, ask instead what their plan is if that happens.
At Emerald Doulas, we know that the day you meet your baby is already a day filled with a lot of unknowns. That’s why each of our clients has a two-doula team from the moment they become clients! This way, if one of your two doulas is attending a birth, or sick, or has a family emergency, you’ll still be supported by your doula, and not a back-up doula (and potentially one whom you’ve never met prior to your birth!).
How will you support my partner/family member/birthing partner?
Doulas aren’t just for birthing people! We provide support for all members of your birth team, without replacing anyone’s special role. Ask your doula how they’ll specifically support your partner on your Birthing Day.
In addition to providing reminders of helpful comfort measures, doulas can help refresh your drink or cool wash clothes, enabling your partner to stay by your side. Or, we can step-in and provide that direct support while they take a break, grab a bite to eat or fresh air, or update anxious family members. Most importantly, we normalize the pace and paths which birth can taken and help you both stay focused and calm if things take a turn off course.
Describe your relationship or previous interactions with my provider/hospital staff?
Working alongside of your care provider is a privilege for us, and we recognize that you’ve carefully chosen a provider who you trust and who will balance your birthing goals with your medical wellbeing. Your doula should never come between that trust.
Emerald Doulas work hard to build bridges and establish connections with local OBs and midwives. Hospital staff and nurses often know our faces when we support families in birth; but we also introduce ourselves and ask how we can support them as well. We are in open communication with providers around the Triangle, and our model provides a sense of accountability and professionalism for our doulas because we’ve build a brand that providers trust.
What happens if my birth goes differently than I hoped for? How do you help me adjust?
Real Talk: Birth never goes according to anyone’s plan, except for your baby’s. Helping families and partners adjust to the inevitable twists and turns of the experience, a doula helps you remain an advocate for yourself and your birth goals.
Get a feel for how the doula you’re interviewing might respond to change or unexpected interventions and see if it will jive with what you’ll need emotionally. Birth is a really vulnerable time in your life, you deserve to be cared for with kindness. You should never feel judged or shamed for your decisions.
Remember: You get to decide what tools you want to use in labor; whether you’re striving for an unmedicated birth, or choosing an epidural from the first contraction. And, you get to change your mind at any point along the way about those tools.
What do you carry in your birth bag?
This is sort of a trick question, if we’re being honest. Most experienced doulas will admit that over time, our doula bags get smaller and smaller because we use the contents of those bags less and less. Sure, we carry a few practical things like twinkly lights, a rebozo, hair ties, and honey sticks; but mostly, we carry items we’ll need while we support you (extra clothes, our toothbrush, deodorant, and so. many. snacks.)
This is because the tools we use most often aren’t found in a bag.
Emerald Doulas are skilled at using their hands for assurance and comforting touch, their voices for quiet encouragement and suggestions and their steady presence to help both you and your partner remain calm and confident during birth. We confidently support you without all the bells and whistles, tools and tricks.