You’ve seen the evidence and know you want doula support for your pregnancy and birth. So you hop online and do a quick search for doulas in your area – should be simple right? The short answer is no, depending on your local birth community. You might be facing a long list of doulas with stark differences in support style, beliefs, and skills.
How do you narrow down your search and find a doula that aligns with your birthing goals? The key starts with you. Taking the time to understand your beliefs about birth, explore what your ideal birth would look like, and ask the right questions during interviews will help you find your perfect doula match. And you can do it without wasting precious time and energy sifting through doulas that won’t be a good fit.
Beliefs about birth
Your heart is set on an unmedicated birth, but do you know why? Assessing medical risks and benefits is important — don’t get me wrong. But benefits and risks don’t paint the full picture. Understanding your core beliefs is essential to creating birthing goals that matter to you. Without clarity on your beliefs, you will be more susceptible to influence from those who don’t share your vision. It is much more difficult to advocate for what you want and need if you don’t know why you are making those choices.
But what does this have to do with finding the right doula? I’m glad you asked!
Do you believe that birth is a sacred, spiritual experience? That the birthing space needs protection?
Do you believe that care providers know what’s best for you and view them as the authority on birth?
Did you have a traumatic experience during a prior birth?
Do you know you need help advocating for your goals and rights during birth to avoid further trauma?
These different beliefs demand different types of doulas. Here are some tips for figuring out your beliefs so you can find the right doula for YOU:
Debrief prior births:
Find a person or community that feels safe for you. Dig into your past birth experience if you’ve already given birth before. What went well? What would you change? What do you want to be different this time?
Make birth art:
Draw or sculpt a pregnant person. Paint what giving birth looks/feels like. Write a poem about what being a parent looks/feels like. How do you feel as you’re making the art? How do you feel when you look at your finished work? Do any fears come up?
Make a values statement:
What are your core values? Break them down into categories like personal, social, political, economic, and religious values. How do these values relate to and intersect with birth?
Take the Keeping Your Power® course:
Learn how to not only identify your beliefs and values, but real skills to apply in all aspects of your life to always keep your power.
Your doula will also have core beliefs about birth and their role as a doula. If you know what you believe, you will be able to identify doulas that match your unique birthing needs.
Knowing what you believe about birth is a great start. Now it’s time to put this information into action. Your birth beliefs will be the compass as you work out what your ideal birth will look like. This is not a wish list or a rigid prescription. Your ideal birth helps you create a roadmap for your birthing experience.
- Set aside at least 20 minutes to visualize and explore what your ideal birth would look like.
- Sit in a comfortable position and take five deep breaths.
- Now think about what the perfect birthing experience would look like for you.
- Where are you at?
- Who’s with you?
- What do you smell, see, taste, feel, hear?
- What do you feel like before, during, and after giving birth?
There is no right or wrong answer here. The gold is in the exploration. What fears come up? What stands out for you? Write it all down.
Tune into your gut and listen to what your body is telling you as you share your ideal birth with potential doulas. Is this person on the same page as you? Do they fit into the visualization you have made for your birth?
Asking the right questions
With your birth belief compass and ideal birth roadmap in hand, it’s time to start mapping out your birth route. The way you do this is by asking the right questions of yourself and your potential doula.
- What kind of pain management do you feel comfortable utilizing?
- Are you in a medical setting or at home?
- Are the people supporting you hands on or are they more of a holding space while you work through your birth?
- Do you see yourself advocating for your birthing goals on your own or do you see your doula stepping in and reaffirming the goals you have set?
- Do you enjoy researching things or does that make you feel overwhelmed?
- Is it important that your doula share certain cultural beliefs?
- Do you feel comfortable with a doula from a different ethnic group?
- Do you want a doula with a certification? Why is that important to you? What type of training do you think would help them serve you best?
- Do you believe that you hold the ultimate authority and power over your body and birth? How can your doula enhance this without shifting the power to themselves?
Who you allow into your birthing space can change the course of your birth. Not all doulas will be right for you, and that is just fine. Using your compass, roadmap, and route for birth as a guide will ensure you find the perfect doula match for YOU.
If you are trying to find a doula that believes advocacy is integral, I have a project in the works for you! Sign up for the newsletter to stay updated.