As both a doula and a trainer of doulas, I’m often asked, “How do you pick a doula?” In this article, you’ll find 8 steps to finding the best doula for you. Yes, the process can be somewhat tedious, but the outcome– finding a support person who you feel 100% comfortable with– is worth it!
As a point of reference, I often suggest folks begin this search in their second trimester. That said, the earlier you book your doula, either birth or postpartum, the more benefit you get from the relationship. For instance, your doula might attend prenatal appointments with you and can be part of the journey the earlier you book. Furthermore, once you commit to working with a doula, you have access to their wealth of information. Please note that some doulas need to be booked months in advance because they’re popular and sign up clients months before due dates.
Please read these considerations as a starting point, not a scientific formula. You get to make this your own process! If you have a partner(s), I invite you to explore these steps together. It’s also very important that you give yourself plenty of time to walk through these steps. If it’s helpful or motivating, consider the ways that you and your family will receive the love, care, support, and information as the fruits of your labor.
Ask your friends and family for referrals.
Personal referrals are a great starting point, and if your support system has ideas, you can cut down on hours of research. Reach out and see who your friends and family have worked with and loved. If you are the first of your friends and family to have a child or work with a doula, no worries! These next 7 steps are just for you.
Name any needs or preferences that feel strong.
Take a little bit of time to consider any needs or preferences you have. A doula will be on this intimate journey with you, so it’s important to find someone who aligns with your most essential needs and preferences. For example, if you know you prefer to work with a person of color, name that. If you prefer to work with an LBGTQIA+ affirming doula, write that down. Perhaps you prefer to work with a doula who is older or someone who feels “motherly” to you, note that. Then, focus your search on these terms. If you don’t have any burning needs or preferences as you begin, that’s okay too. Stay curious to the process!
Use a birth worker search platform.
It can be helpful to find an online hub that offers a list of doulas and their bios. In Austin, where I live, we have the Central Texas Doula Association. If you live outside of Austin, google “(your city) doula association.” If you don’t find what you are looking for, I suggest pursuing Doula Match, where you can search by location.
Trust your heart.
People often share that the search is overwhelming; I feel for you! Thus, I recommend scanning bios relatively quickly. See what stands out, catches your attention, resonates, or feels comforting. Write the names of the doulas whose words you’re connecting with down.
Narrow your list down to five doulas.
Are any of the doulas on your list people you were referred to? If so, you might consider putting them at the top of your list. Did anyone else stand out? There’s not a formula for this step, so you’ll have to trust yourself. Whatever or whoever is standing out is valid for you– go with it.
Dig in deeper.
Look over the websites of the five doulas you’ve identified as possibilities. Many doulas use Instagram or Facebook to share their offerings, as well as childbirth and postpartum education information; thus, you might enjoy exploring the social media pages of doulas on your list. As you browse, stay connected to your heart and your core needs and preferences.
Identify your top three, and set up consultation calls.
Decide on three doulas to connect with directly. When you connect, tell them what kind of birth or postpartum experience you’re hoping for. Share your biggest needs, preferences, and concerns. By the end of a 10-minute conversation, you will often have a feel for whether or not the doula is a good fit for your family.
Meet two doulas for an interview.
Schedule an interview with the two doulas you connected with most strongly over the phone. Again, this is a great opportunity to bring your biggest needs and preferences to the table, as well as any burning questions you have about the process, having a doula, or the doula themselves. You will also want to look over their contract or agreement, as well as their fees, deposits, and other policies. At this time, inquire about the doula’s availability. Some doulas will be booked well in advance, while others have last-minute space. It is their responsibility to assess availability based on your due date.
Again, this process is a guide that you can adapt as you go. Please note that you will likely be unable to get through all 8 steps in a day or even a week. Work at the pace that feels comfortable to you. Finally, if at any point you’ve narrowed your search down and need to expand it again, do that. It’s best to find a doula based on relationship, rather than convenience. I wish you a wonderful search, and please know that I am here as a resource. Shoot me an email or reach out to me on my contact page if you have any questions.