What Should I Ask My Doula? Frequently Asked Questions... and What to Ask Instead!

What questions should I ask my {future} doula?  

While I experience different questions in a doula consultation, many of them are the same.  

Here you'll find questions I get asked the most frequently - and ways to obtain more bang for your {answer} buck!

Frequently asked question #1: What organization did you train through?  Are you certified?

Training, education and knowledge are essential to any professional.  As a birth professional, it is imperative to stay relevant on current, evidenced-based information.

But, it is important that your doula know HOW to implement this information for the benefit of you, the client.

Ask this in addition to the above:  What aspect of your training will best help you support me as my doula?

Frequently asked question #2: How long have you been a doula?  How many births have you attended?

Both these questions get asked frequently.  While I think experience has tremendous value, I don't believe numbers necessarily communicate worth or ability.  

Does a new doula lack the ability to serve you well?  Does a seasoned doula who has attended hundreds of births have the ability to put their personal birth views aside to serve you in an unbiased manner?  

Ask instead:  How will you serve me my doula? Do you have testimonials from previous clients I can read?

In my own way, I'm trying to say - don't just look at the numbers.  I believe both new doulas and seasoned doulas have their own strengths to offer as your doula.

Additionally, hearing previous client testimonials can allow you insight to those who have been satisfied with their service as a doula.

Frequently asked question #3: When will you join me when my labor begins?

Your question should immediately be asked with this question:

Doula: "When do you want me to join you?"

You should discuss when you feel most comfortable having your doula join you AND which methods of communication are best to get in touch with one another.  

I am highly in favor of having a second phone number to reach your doula (if possible) if you are unable to reach them on their primary number.  Additionally, you should have the number for your back up doula as well.

Frequently asked question #4: What is your fee for doula services?  In what situations would you offer a refund?

Ask this instead: What services does your fee provide?  When can I view your contract?

By rephrasing from "What is your fee?" to "What services does your fee provide?", you as the client get more information as to the services you are investing in.  

Your doula should discuss this and more with you:

  • How to communication with your doula: how, how often and when (do they offer contact only during business hours for non-emergent needs?)

  • How often you will meet with your doula during your pregnancy and what happens when you meet (learning more about you, you preferred comfort measures, birth preferences, birth plan and more!)

  • When your doula will go on call for you

  • When and where will your doula meet you when you are in labor

  • How long your doula will stay with you during your labor and birth

  • Will your doula have a back up doula? In what situations would the back up doula be called? Do you get to meet / talk to the back up doula?

All these items should be covered in your contract.  Trust me, you want your doula to have a contract!  It communicates to you what you can expect from your doula and what happens if those expectations are not met by either party.

Frequently asked question #5:  Have you worked with XX provider at YY hospital / birth center?

Ask instead:  How will you work with my spouse/family member/midwife/obstetrician/nursing staff as part of my birth team?

Your doula is exactly that - one member out of many on your birth team.  Your doula should be there to support your birth choices and facilitate healthy communication between all members of your team.

Your doula should never speak on your behalf - this is not their role.  

What you can expect from your doula is resources to help you get the information you need by providing evidenced-based information, or presenting the question for you to ask by saying something like, "Did you have a question for Dr. X about the risks and benefits of Z intervention?"  

Finally, here are some questions you can anticipate your doula asking you:

  • What are you looking for in your doula?

  • What aspects of your birth are most important to you and as your doula, how can I best support you through them?

  • Who will be attending your birth?  How can I best support them?

Are you interested in hiring a doula for your birth?  GREAT!  Are you interested in hiring me?  Even better!  Find more information about how to hire me as you birth doula and how my services can benefit you HERE.  

DONA Certified Birth Doula and Professional Birth Photographer serving Central Missouri including Rolla, St. James, St Robert, Waynesville, Fort Leonard Wood, Salem, Licking, Dixon, Cuba, Newburg, Jefferson City and more; at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital and Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

Positive Birth Affirmations

It's time ... the time to birth is here.  What words are most effective to encourage you for these final moments of labor before you met your baby?

Positive Birth Affirmations

  • I trust my ability to birth.

  • Each wave brings me closer to holding my baby.

  • I am strong! I can do this!

  • My focus is calm.

  • I let go of my fear and embrace this moment.

  • My strength allows my baby to descend.

  • I am excited and ready for birth.

  • My body was made for this.

  • I give my body the freedom to bring.

  • My body and my baby are the perfect team.

  • I trust the process.

  • I surrender and accept this birth.

  • I relax my mind and muscles.

Creative Ways to Utilize Your Affirmations

Surround yourself (literally!) with the affirmations that speak the most to you.

Here are some ways you can prepare for your birth by being creative with your Pregnancy, Labor and Birth Affirmations:

  • Make a date of it - Grab markers, crayons, glitter, stickers, construction paper, scrapbook paper, your best friend and your favorite snacks! Be creative, have F-U-N!

  • Find that window paint your bridesmaids used on your car the night you got married and write your favorite affirmations on your bathroom mirror, dresser mirror, or any other window or mirror surface in your home or car.

  • Do you love chalkboard paint? Utilize those surfaces throughout your house and go old school with colored chalk.

  • Make a collage - use magazines and newspapers. Find books at Goodwill or the thrift store. Cut out words like Relax, Calm, Strength, Joy, Peace, Open, Trust, Freedom, Happy... whatever speaks to you. Use pictures. Get a bunch of paint swatches, using colors that make you feel calm.

  • Grab your favorite color markers and notecards. Write your favorite affirmations and stick them everywhere - on your fridge, by the kitchen sink, in the corner of picture frames, on your bedroom door, on your nightstand, in your underwear drawer... the possibilities are endless!

  • Use your alarm for good - utilize the label function on your alarm to wake up to encouragement. See?


Take Your Affirmations into Your Birth Environment

Remember to take your affirmations (and tape!) to your birth with you.  Tape them to the wall of your birthing room.  If there's a TV, tape it over the screen.  Tell your birthing team which affirmations are effective for you (and which ones are NOT) to encourage and empower you each step of the way.

I am excited for you - you can do this!

DONA Certified Birth Doula and Professional Birth Photographer serving Central Missouri including Rolla, St. James, St Robert, Waynesville, Fort Leonard Wood, Salem, Licking, Dixon, Cuba, Newburg, Jefferson City and more; at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital and Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

When It Looks Like I'm Doing Nothing

One of my favorite moments as a doula was a time I was serving a client at her birth.  She was positioned on her hands and knees on the hospital bed, breathing through her contractions. I was standing behind her, literally standing on the bed, with a rebozo, a long, woven traditional Mexican shawl, wrapped and lifting up on her belly.  This helps to relax tight ligaments and support her belly during contractions. 

As a doula, this is what I do.

I will get in any position possible to support my clients - standing on a bed using a rebozo, squatting on the floor while massaging her lower back as she sits on the birth ball, bending over sideways so they can look me in the eye and encourage them through a difficult moment.

Apparently, one of the labor and delivery nurses hadn't experienced a doula serving her client this way before, and when she walked in on this abnormal scene standing on the bed scene, she mouthed to me, "You go girl!".

This moment of encouragement from the nurse is one I will never forget because I truly believe we all- doulas, nurses, loved ones, and providers, are there as a team to serve and support the birthing mother.

Birth photography by Shallin Blue

Birth photography by Shallin Blue

But there are times when I'm sure a few nurses have wondered what in the world my clients are paying me for.  It may appear that I'm sitting in the corner, out of the way, doing nothing.

When it looks like I'm doing nothing...

I am assessing the environment. 

Is the lighting too harsh?  I should probably go dim them again after the OB finishes the exam.  Oh ... her birth music stopped.  Let me go refresh the playlist and put it on automatic repeat.  I close the door to her room so the hallway noise doesn't distract her.  She's starting to sweat, she's too warm.... run down the hall and get a bucket of ice water and make a cold compress for her forehead and back of her neck.

I am watching her body. 

She's gotten quiet... she is breathing more heavily and focusing deeper on her contractions.  I can see her face scrunching up, and her shoulders are tense.  I need to put my hand on her shoulder... she will remember the tension exercise we practiced at her prenatal and will relax her shoulder when I rest my hand on it.  I squat on the floor and give offer counter pressure to relieve the tension.

I am in tune with her emotions. 

I hear her whispers and see the change in her mood... she is getting closer to transition.  She needs those words of affirmation and encouragement we talked about.  I quietly remind her husband that she expressed in our prenatal appointments that it was important for her to hear him say he is proud of her. 

I am honoring her birth plan. 

She wants to labor in the tub... let's get the tub ready. We help her get to the tub, she and her husband slow dance through the next contraction until it passes.  We get her in the tub.  The water level isn't high enough, it needs to be above her chest so she's floating and weightless.  I turn on the water, and monitor the temperature closely, it can't get too warm.  I crouch on the tile floor beside the tub, watching her closely, an arm length away if she needs me.

I am her doula. 

As she feels the urge to push, I am beside her, helping her hold her knee to her chest.  I am cheering her on, telling her she is most amazing mom in the world, that her baby cannot wait to meet her, that she is almost there...  as tears swell up in my eyes as that sweet, precious life is placed onto her chest, I take the pictures she hired me to take, because I too never want her to forget this amazing moment that she became a mom, that she was victorious in bringing new life into the world.

So, it may look like I'm doing nothing, but I promise you, I am. 

I am always doing something, even if I am physically not moving.  My mind doesn't stop working for one second as I am holding the space in that room for my birthing client to achieve the birth she desires.  While we know birth doesn't always go according to our hopes and plans, I am there to support her, her partner, and their growing family.  

And I can be there to support you.