I’m Not the Doula for You

Okay, maybe I am…but maybe I’m not. And that’s ok!

Choosing a birth support team is a highly personal decision with many factors that come into play. From personal history to religious/cultural beliefs, desires for different types of medical care, and various risk factors in pregnancy, so many things have to be considered when hiring a doula.

Doula support is not one size fits all. What works for one family might not work for another. The communication style and personality of one doula might not gel at all with what you’re going for, but might be the perfect vibe for your best friend.

You are an intricate creation and your approach to childbirth will be as unique and original as you are. To expect any old doula to be “the one” to support you in birth is just silly. So when I say I’m not the doula for you, I very well might not be! And that’s okay. I have happily walked away from plenty of interviews with potential clients feeling completely certain that I was not the doula they were looking for. Maybe they weren’t the clients I was looking for and that’s okay, too!

The beauty of assembling a birth team is that you get to choose people who align with your values, beliefs, goals, and personality. Guys, this is your Marvel moment! You’re Nick Fury assembling a team of Avengers for the monumental job at hand and that’s incredibly cool and exciting, albeit with fewer capes. (Maybe don’t pick me if you don’t get down with superhero references?)

So, how should you discern which doula is the right one for you? There are tons of lists online that offer free access to questions to ask in doula interviews, but here are the things I think are most important:

What are your goals? Maybe you’re attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or you’re a nervous first timer. Perhaps you are dedicated to delivering your baby without interventions or medications. Maybe you want some insight into bringing your faith into your hospital birth experience or you want to have an unassisted home birth. Each and every one of those births requires different styles and levels of support. Each one needs nuanced care that is specifically curated for the unique needs of that particular birth. Don’t hesitate to search for a doula who specializes in the kind of care you’re looking for.

What are your values? Is it important for you to have a doula who shares your faith or belief system? Do you want someone who has an extensive knowledge of the medical system? Is it important for you to have a doula who comes from a similar racial background? Make sure your potential doula has a handle on any customs or concerns you hold dear so that you’re certain you’re all speaking the same language in labor. Having a support person who shares your value system opens up a whole toolbox of ideology, culture, terminology, and context for her to tap into while you’re laboring.

Is this someone you feel connected to? When choosing a doula, you’re inviting someone into one of the most intimate moments of your life. She’s going to see some unmentionables. She’s going to be there when you’re emotionally and physically vulnerable. She’s going to hear you say the things you say when you’re at your absolute limit. She needs to be someone you feel safe and connected to, someone you trust wholeheartedly. Take the time to make sure your doula is someone you can honestly say you connect with and who makes you feel valued and secure.

What are her biases? Pay attention to any biases present. Ask what her birth philosophy is, what core values drive her practice, and what she considers a “successful” birth. You definitely don’t want to hire a “yes man” who tells you what you want to hear, but is driven by motives that contradict the sort of care you want to receive.

So maybe I’m not the doula for you. I am completely cool with that. At the end of the day I want you to have your best birth whether that includes me personally or not. I will never push my services on you. I will never ghost you or guilt you or be purposefully awkward…can’t vouch that I won’t accidentally be awkward, though.

What I will do is refer you to doulas who might be more up your alley. I’ll give you a heads up on what direction to take to achieve the goals you’ve set and I will wish you well. I’ll say a prayer that your birth is beautiful, validating, and precious, that you’re seen and heard by your team, honored by your provider, and adored by your partner. And then I’ll send you on your way to find a doula who will help you make that all happen…because she’s out there and worth finding, even if she’s not me.