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 Post subject: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:48 pm 
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So I'm ready to hire a doula, and I'm curious about what made you choose yours.

I met a lovely lady who seems super-proactive and on top of stuff, and just gave birth 2 months ago herself. She's a new doula so her fee schedule is really great, and she just seems like she'd be amazing at getting things done. But, I worry that I'm going to want someone with calmer energy, just to focus me and that her very "up" energy (she's also much younger than I am) would drive me crazy while birthing. Her response was that she can be anything I need in labor, and that she's really all about my needs, which sounds awesome and great, but I don't want to get to the birthing suite and then find she annoys the crepe out of me...

I'm meeting another doula who is more experienced and comes highly recommended on Friday, but she is much busier than the first one, so I'm pretty sure that (1) she's going to be more professional (less girlfriendy) and a lot pricier, and (2) she's going to have less time to spend, because she does have such a busy practice. By contrast. the first was pretty much "I live right by you, so even though the agreement says 1 postpartum visit, I'll stop by as much as you need to get you settled."

So out of curiousity, what made you pick the doula you went with?

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:45 pm 
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It sounds like I had a pretty similar choice. There was one doula who said she was very hands on, and another that seemed much calmer. I ended up going with the very hands-on doula that had very strong opinions, because I thought it would be a good counterbalance to giving birth in a hospital. I was wrong. She ended up annoying the hell out of me and making me second guess myself in a way that I totally didn't need. Looking back, I think the calm person would have been better.

In fact, if I do it again I don't even want a doula. This time she left to go home anyway, since everyone thought I'd take a while to dilate, but I didn't. So me and my husband did it all together pretty much by ourselves anyway. I also really like and trust my OB-gyn, so I think that made a huge difference. If I had a crappy doctor, then I think the doula would have been a lot more helpful.

I think it really comes down to personality for something like this though, so it is really hard to say what would work for someone else. I think for me, going through the whole process taught me so much about what I even wanted. There was really no way for me to know until I had already been through it.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:52 pm 
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Aubade, I am curious, what did you feel that you really wanted from your doula experience? I never even heard of a doula until after I had the kids, so it was certainly too late, but from what I gather my midwife really did most of what a doula would have done up to birth time. I think I may have the misconception (? if it's incorrect, which I'm not sure) that doulas are super great for homebirth but i'm still not sure exactly what their function is if the birth occurs in a hospital.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:04 pm 
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I really appreciate your thoughts Aubade! I like the high energy woman in concept, but she might drive me nuts. I got tired just having coffee with her!

T, my understanding is that your midwife or MD is not going to be there for the whole birth - they come in and check on you, and help you through rough patches, and they catch the baby, but they aren't there for the duration - so some of the laboring is just you along with your partner and the doula is there for that. She acts as a labor coach - so basically advocating for what you want at a time that you are preoccupied and not able to advocate for yourself.

I feel like while I adore my partner, he is going to be pretty much overwhelmed and likely to say "give her drugs if she wants them!" instead of helping me remember why I wanted to avoid interventions. Not because he is a bad partner, but because he hasn't been through a birth and because he is completely adverse to any conflict, so he tends to just go with what the 'experts' tell him to do. Plus, I think its really hard for him to be with me when I'm not in control or hurting or angry etc. because it really triggers his own stuff, so having a buffer between us would be really great, so he can have his own experience without feeling like he is failing me, you know?

I really would prefer not to get a doula and spend the money (which is substantial) on something else, but I do feel like I need someone to do the "mothering the mother" stuff and coach me in a way that my husband and midwife aren't going to be doing.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:10 pm 
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The buffer thing makes a lot of sense, as does the "birth buddy" type thing. I also think it would have been super great to have someone with me after the birth and at checkout time, as I really didn't know what was going on/what to do for a good few days.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:19 pm 
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My friend is a former doula and is now studying to be a midwife. The way she explains it is that the doula is there to advocate for the mama, to keep things as close to the birth plan as possible, to make sure mama's eating, listening to the music she wants, avoiding the drugs she doesn't want etc, while the midwife is there to make sure baby and mama live.

If you're birthing in a hospital, especially, having an advocate may be a really great idea. Also, since your husband may not be at his best during your birthing it seems your instinct of having someone on your side who can say no to doctors is a great idea.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:23 pm 
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I was fortunate in that one of my best friends was just starting on the path to becoming a doula, so I got to have someone I was super comfortable with who could also provide guidance and advocate on my behalf in the hospital.

It's hard to know exactly how you're going to feel in labor, which I think makes it hard to predict who you would best like to have with you... but my gut instinct would be not to go with a doula who you suspect might annoy you if you have another option who doesn't seem potentially annoying.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:27 am 
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This is such a great question! Because I don’t think enough people really know what to look for when hiring a doula.

First of all, doulas can play very different roles. I didn’t think I wanted one when I had my son 6.5 months ago, but in retrospect I couldn’t have imagine his birth without her (or anyone else who was part of our birthteam for that matter). Not only was she there for me, but my husband and the midwives as well! I had a homebirth and was in labor for 30 hours, so a HUGE thing she did was make sure that my husband ate, got rest and remained calm. I had no idea until later, but i guess he started freaking out at one point at thought because it was taking a long time that I was in some sort of trouble. She totally calmed him down and made sure he didn’t freak out in front of me, which would have totally made me freak out. She also gave the midwives some down time to take naps when not much was going on. She cooked for all of us, suggested new positions, massaged and encouraged me. She also suggested ways for my husband to help, encourage and be active in the whole process (not that he wouldn’t have been, but he’d never been to a birth before). If you don’t hire a doula for yourself, do it for your birth partner! Oh yeah, she logged every thing so she could write a birth story with a great timeline later. It was so cool to get another perspective on how it went compared to how i remembered it (in my head I was only in labor for like 5 hours).
I think in a hospital setting they have just as much to offer. They can advocate for you and make sure you understand what the doctors and nurses are telling you. From my understanding, sometimes in hospital births or any birth you have to make urgent decisions and a doula is a great person to tell you the different options and what they entail. It’s hard to think clearly while in labor and to really weigh the pros and cons of each decision you make. I think that a doula will kind of help take pressure off of you from the doctors.
So, I think it’s great Tofulish that you picked up on the possibility that the one doula might drive you nuts while in labor! It’s hard to know what you will want when you’re giving birth, but if she wears you out now, she will for sure wear you out then! I believe on DONA’s website there is a list of questions you can have prepared to ask when starting to interview potential doulas.
I met with a few before I decided on one. I was lucky and had a list of about 20 to interview, so I knew I didn’t have to just go with the first one I met. The thing that I always kept in the back of my head was “Do I really want this person at the birth of my son?” I didn’t even want my mom there, so I knew that I was going to be picky about a doula. I met a few who were nice and I thought they were probably competent at what they do, but something just didn’t click with them. Some stressed me out. Some were just weird. However, when I met the woman I used, we hit it off instantly and we talked openly for a few hours! She was more like an old friend than a stranger.
I would highly recommend having anyone who is going to be with you during labor to interview the doula with you. I needed my husband to be comfortable with the doula as well, because I didn’t want it to be awkward or for them to have only met once before hand. He needed to know her as well as I did!
Hope this helps!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:38 am 
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THANK YOU! I really appreciate the feedback. Am going to check out DONA now :)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:31 am 
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Wow, BrokenBox, now I'm really wishing I'd hired a doula!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:26 pm 
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Awesome first post BrokenBox and thanks so much! :D (That was really helpful info)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a m?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:46 pm 
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Shanti wrote:
Awesome first post BrokenBox and thanks so much! :D (That was really helpful info)


Thanks! I can be really shy, so I always debate whether I should post and then talk myself out of it. Since I had such a positive birth experience and LOVE LOVE LOVE my doula and midwives I thought I should share.

I highly recommend having a doula no matter where you plan to give birth. If you find that they are not helping or annoying you, the worst that could happen is you ask them to leave the room, or have your birth partner ask them. I think a good doula would understand and not get too upset about it. Labor is intense and there is no way of knowing how you are going to feel until it’s happening.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a m?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:40 am 
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BrokenBox wrote:
Thanks! I can be really shy, so I always debate whether I should post and then talk myself out of it.

Even some of us "old timers" find ourselves doing this on a regular basis. Welcome!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:46 am 
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Welcome! And please post more (and pictures of your little one if you're up for sharing some!)! It sounds like you have tons of great wisdom to share!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:26 am 
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Thanks all! I'll post pics when I figure out how. Sorry Tofulish, didn't mean to hijack your thread:)


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:30 am 
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Here are the instructions for posting images! Look!

And no worries! I really appreciate the feedback!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:40 pm 
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Hey there I was the daddy in the room for our first birth, and I totally agree with what BrokenBox wrote. Our Doula went and got me food during my wife's (2 or 3) naps, and also strategized with me on dealing with the doctors, doing a bit of a "bad cop good cop" thing which I loved since I got to be the bad cop and get up in the grill of one particularly nasty doctor.

I'll add something too. Which is that sometimes I would be trying to work with my wife on breathing and relaxing, and she'd say "honey I love you but please go away and let me talk to (our doula)". Even though I was saying and doing pretty much exactly what our doula was saying and doing, and what we had practiced in our class, my wife took more comfort in hearing it from her. I didn't have the same credibility, for one. But also, I think she really wanted to hear it from a woman, and be connected to a woman.

I didn't feel at all useless though, which I know some guys and partners worry about. I had plenty to do. For one thing, I moved my wife around all the time, carrying her to different spots, helping her change positions, and talking with her a lot. So the doula doesn't replace the father/ birth partner - she's a great complement.

D


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:20 pm 
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Thanks DLD! The doulas I have met so far talk about how its a birth team - that they are there to support both partners and also to help the non-birthing partner support the person birthing. Its good to know that you had such a great experience and that things went so well for you and your partner.

Today I met a doula who is amazing - she is such a cool activist and runs a clinic to provide doula/lactation services to low income mothers and she is all about introducing meditation into the birthing process. Plus her co-doula is vegan, and has PCOS and is an IBCLC lactation consultant. And she came so highly recommended. She's been doing this for over 20 years and just being around her was great.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 5:57 pm 
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V and I met with our Doula(s) today! I am so excited, they were the first girls we interviewed, both are just about to finish their course and they are offering their services to us for free since it will help them get their certification. They were both very knowledgable, laid back and both have had babies (and recently at that!). V was a little hesistant at first but he really liked them too! I am so happy that they seem to be a good fit for us. We may luck out and get them both at the borth depending on when ViMo decides to arrive, as the one gal is headed out of town 2 days before our due date. Either way, they both seem great and I am looking forward to having them there :)

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:22 pm 
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That is fantastic! Congratulations!

I think at the end of the day, you really want someone you feel really comfortable hanging out with and it sounds like they are perfect for you!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:06 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
My friend is a former doula and is now studying to be a midwife. The way she explains it is that the doula is there to advocate for the mama, to keep things as close to the birth plan as possible, to make sure mama's eating, listening to the music she wants, avoiding the drugs she doesn't want etc, while the midwife is there to make sure baby and mama live.


I follow a midwife's blog (in French) and she says that midwives tend to get into this line of work for one of 3 reasons: to be an advocate for mothers, to be an advocate for babies, or to be an advocate for Birth. According to her it's a good idea to get an understanding of which type your midwife is, and if she's not primarily an advocate for mothers, have someone else in the room who will be. I thought this made sense.

I hope you find someone you're happy with, Tofulish!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:13 pm 
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Momo wrote:
V and I met with our Doula(s) today! I am so excited, they were the first girls we interviewed, both are just about to finish their course and they are offering their services to us for free since it will help them get their certification. They were both very knowledgable, laid back and both have had babies (and recently at that!). V was a little hesistant at first but he really liked them too! I am so happy that they seem to be a good fit for us. We may luck out and get them both at the borth depending on when ViMo decides to arrive, as the one gal is headed out of town 2 days before our due date. Either way, they both seem great and I am looking forward to having them there :)


I would think one of the most important things, if not THE most important, is that you find people you are comfortable being around. Sounds like you did, congrats!


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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:13 pm 
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I guess I don't understand why you can't be an advocate for all 3? I also don't get being an advocate for Birth without being an advocate for the individuals at issue...

I love our Doulas - I have access to both, and its so neat that one is vegan. Also they both have years of experience and are very active in public health, so they run a program that brings birth support to low income women, and I love that about them. http://www.nourishingwisdomservices.com/home

Its cool because they are giving us 2 classes of labor comfort measures, then they are with you in labor, and stay for about 2 hours (basically until you ask them to leave) to make sure breast-feeding is established and the baby is healthy and taken care off. Then once you're home they come by to help you care for the infant. So it feels like it is support for the whole family. They keep reminding us that they are there to help Brett as well, which is pretty nice too.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:41 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I guess I don't understand why you can't be an advocate for all 3? I also don't get being an advocate for Birth without being an advocate for the individuals at issue...

Well, the way my friend talks about it is that as a midwife she will do her best to stick to the birth plan, but her ultimate goal is keeping baby and mama alive and well. Her job isn't to advocate for mama, because sometimes the circumstances will necessitate she do something mama didn't want, but that her medical expertise says she must do to keep everyone alive and well. Whereas the doula is speaking up if and when the birthing person can't, making sure everyone is eating, playing music, etc.

They are just different priorities and different focuses, though all have the same intent of having a healthy birth that honours the woman (or other individual giving birth)'s wishes.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you look for in a Doula?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:21 pm 
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But isn't advocating for something that ultimately would keep mama and baby alive, even if its not in the birth plan advocating for the mother? I would be very worried if my midwife stuck to a birthplan at a point where medically the direction didn't make sense.

My doula says that she isn't medically trained but helps the couple come to the best decision for them. If I am unable to make decisions, she and the midwife would help Brett decide what should be done. My doula and midwife both see their roles as very holistic and so I guess I think the division is kind of academic.

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