Doula Decision Time

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my full disclosure.)

In the past week Hubby and I met with three doulas. Now we’re trying to decide which one we want to hire for Delivery Day. It’s proving to be a tough decision to make. I’m hoping that writing all this out will help paint a clearer picture for me, and I’d love any input you could offer!

Doula A: newly certified, 3-4 births under her belt. She got into the gig because the school she taught at had a high rate of teen pregnancies. She wanted to help these girls who didn’t seem to have support at home, or were too scared to go to their parents for help. She seemed really sweet, but there was a newness about her. And after I met Doula B, a certain air of confidence seemed to be missing. She has a back-up doula and would need 1 hour to get to me after we said we’re ready for her. Our consult lasted about 20 minutes. Fee: $250.

Doula B: student doula who hopes to have her certification by mid-January, 7 births under her belt (3 being her own children). She saw my midwife for at least one of her pregnancies and therefore know my midwives and hospital and spoke highly of them. Hubby described her as “motherly.” Her attitude seems to be more, “stand back, watch and assist when asked or really needed.” She has a Dola Bag of Tricks, but says she will only use them if all other methods stop working. She is willing to help me create a birth plan for both vaginal and c-section delivery. She asked about all aspects of my pregnancy, before, during after. She was all for a drug free birth (she had epidurals with hers) but did want to know why I didn’t want an epidural. She mentioned that trauma can stem from anything — even something like a simple IV. Knowing that she wasn’t going to blow off my emotions on how I felt about my birth experience was a breath of fresh air. She said that because I had postpartum depression with G, then she’d probably try and check in with me one or two more times postpartum instead of the usual once to make sure I’m okay. She also had PPD with her second child and raved about placenta encapsulation, saying she did it with her third child and has noticed a difference in moods this time around. She has 2 back-up doulas and would need 2 hours to get to me after we said we’re ready for her. Fee: $200.

Doula C: certified, 10-12 births under her belt, had a natural childbirth in a birth center. Licensed massage therapist and dabbles in photography. She actively uses her Doula Bag of Tricks (which includes snacks for Hubby and I), aromatheraphy, massage and reflexology during labor. She kind of reminded me of the doula that taught our crash course in natural childbirth who made me consider being one myself. She isn’t familiar with my midwife or hospital, saying she has a potential birth in January that would be at my hospital. She said she heard less-than-stellar things about my hospital when it comes to labor and delivery, saying they are more “old school”, but she has done deliveries at the sister hospital the next county over. (From what I understand, both maternity wards should be very, very similar having been newly renovated). When I asked how she’d help if I did decide to get the epidural she said she has an elongated birthing ball (she called it a “peanut”) and uses that to help position me in ways to keep my pelvis open and allow labor to move a little more quickly than if I were to lay on my back like most women with epidurals are. This stood out since I pretty much laid in bed on an incline on my back once I got my epidural with G. If I get an epi again, I’d like to make sure I can still do something to speed things along and it is nice to know there are options there. She is in the market for a back-up doula in our area and would need 1 hour to get to me after we said we’re ready for her. Fee: $500 which includes birth photography and one prenatal massage.

After meeting Doula B, Hubby and I immediately crossed Doula A off our list because we felt it was better if the doula had actually given birth before. In Hubby’s words: “you can read a manual on how to build a carburetor, but unless you’ve done it before you don’t really know how to build a carburetor.” This wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but after meeting the second and then the third doula we felt it made more sense for us if ours had that experience, plus Doulas B and C really seemed to know what needed to be discussed at the consult and we had a better idea on their philosophes on birth.

Doula B listened. She raved about my midwife, the OB that works with her, and the hospital and its nurses. Since she is a student she has to be evaluated by the mother and caregivers with every birth she attends and, from what she says, she’s gotten really good evaluations so far. I loved that she seemed motherly, took the time to listen to my history, and is willing to create a solid birth plan for vaginal and c-section deliveries. However, I think the fact she said she’s one to sit back and observe and wait to be asked for help kind of bothered me. Also, I feel like I’ll want to depend on the Bag of Tricks (I’ve seen what’s in some of them and I think I could use everything in them!)

Doula C is very passionate about what she does. She said she doesn’t want me to feel anything less than a goddess at the end. She seemed pretty anti-OB at times (at least when it came to a normal, healthy pregnancy) which put me off a little. I could tell she was put out about my last birth experience stating many things probably could have been done differently and I definitely shouldn’t have been allowed to get dehydrated once I had the epidural. After we verbalized G’s birth story this third time, I realized some things really didn’t add up and it really was a crappy experience and said so. Doula C also acknowledged some things didn’t make sense about my experience. I got the feeling she would be a good cheerleader and be the one to say, “You’re doing great! It isn’t really what you want!” if I start asking for an epidural, whereas the other two doulas were like “If you start asking for it, we’ll get it for you!” (not 100% what I want). I definitely felt Doula C would be able to discuss pros and cons to what my midwives and nurses suggest, if they have to suggest any kind of interventions. When I asked about a scheduled C-section (I’m paranoid this is going to be my fate this time), Doula C said she’d consider lowering her fee depending on how involved we’d want her to be if that happened — but went on to say it won’t happen so we won’t think about that (I’m not sure I felt comforted by that). She’s familiar with Spinning Babies and could help me with that if New Baby is found to be breech. She was extremely quick at responding to all of my emails when I was trying to find out her availability, price, and figuring out a time to meet.

When asked about c-sections all three doulas said they would accompany me to recovery while Hubby was with the baby. This was important because So! Many! friends have the worst feelings about this part of the surgery: being alone for a long time and not knowing what’s going on. Doulas B and C said it’s the anesthesia that makes it seem like such a long time, but no one likes being alone in a situation like that and I shouldn’t have to be.

Without asking, both doulas seemed to understand the importance of ice chips at the hospital during labor. This is important to me since I was dehydrated during G’s labor.

Hubby’s take on Doula B: he liked that she is familiar with our midwives and hospital. He also seemed to like that she seemed motherly.

Hubby’s take on Doula C: is birth photography really necessary? He got the impression that she was more, “sit back and wait until you tell me what to do” (I felt that way about Doula B), but when she jumps in, she’s all about being a team. He mentioned she reminds him of another chick he knew that he isn’t too crazy about, but when I asked if that was a bad thing he made it sound like it wasn’t a deal breaker.

The good news, I guess, is that the majority of all of these births ended in a vaginal delivery. All three doulas said they only had 1, maybe 2, c-section births.

I keep leaning towards Doula C for the massage experience and, now that I’ve written this out, birth philosophy — it seems similar to mine and she is huge on being educated when it comes to childbirth no matter what decision you make on how to labor. Hubby hasn’t ruled her out based on price, though he has questioned me a few times about whether birth photography is really necessary. (No, it’s not, but if it’s offered why not?) Part of me worries I may regret not having that massage experience on hand, especially because I believe in its benefits.

Hubby seems to be leaning towards Doula B, but said it was really up to me. Nice, especially since he hasn’t harped on Doula C’s fee yet, but he also has to work with who we choose and that makes this harder for me.

Ugh! I was really hoping this would be easy, but it is proving to be a little more difficult than I thought.

6 thoughts on “Doula Decision Time

  1. After my phenomenal experience with my doula, I HIGHLY recommend one…though you don’t need convincing! Gut feeling, just reading through your description, I would go with doula B. Price is a factor, as is the fact that she knows your midwives/hospital. It seems like a nice mix of newness (but not brand new), and more experience. However, I like that doula C is more hands-on…you don’t want to have to wait if there’s a neat acupressure or massage technique that might help.

    Hope you make your decision soon – it’ll take some stress off!

  2. Gut feeling for me is Doula C. I feel like your hubby wasn’t helpful last time, and you really need a Doula who is more forward and willing to step in and KNOW where you need her to be strong for you without you having to ask. A cpl hundred dollars extra is nothing in the scheme of life, and I think you’ll like having some photographs of the experience (and massage is def an added bonus!)

  3. Based on how much and the tone that you wrote about each one, it sounds like your gut is leading towards Doula C.

    As for me, the fact that she’s a massage therapist would have sold me immediately and I would ask to trade in the photography experience for an extra massage! Then again, I know nothing about Doulas and what to look for, so go with your gut and what you think is the best for that day (in the grand scheme of things the cost difference is much less than most fertility treatments).

  4. Definitely follow your gut. But here’s my assvice anyway, not having had a doula.
    I understand the allure of both B and C. But why couldn’t you talk to B and ask her if she would be will to be more hands on, use her bag of tricks and what not? She is after all there to help you in your delivery. Aren’t you supposed to be able to ask them for what you need? Wouldn’t those things you want (that C offered/said she would do) be a part of your birth plan?

    It sounds like talking to all of them has made you realize things that you want for your delivery. Now you need to combine everything you want and get the doula that will give you most of what you want, even if you have to ask them if they will help you with it.
    Good luck deciding. I can’t wait to hear which one you go with.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.