babyMaternity Magazine
Creative Child

Parenting: Finding The Right Doula or Midwife For You and Your Baby

by Erin J. Bernard

So you've decided to hire a doula or midwife to assist at your birth. Where in the world to begin? Choices abound, and locating a birth worker who is just right can leave any mom-to-be feeling a bit like Goldilocks.

Breathe! Certified doula Michele Peterson of District Doulas in Washington, D.C., offers practical tips for hiring the provider best suited to your family's needs.

1. Take your time

Many moms hire whichever birth worker their doctor or friends suggest, while others feel overwhelmed and hire the first one they interview. Slow down, and don't hesitate to conduct multiple interviews, advises Peterson.

"We spend so much time in our culture planning for our wedding, buying a car,; she says. If parents could put half that energy into researching and interviewing providers for births, people would have a better birth experience."

2. Connect emotionally and philosophically

Finding someone you and your partner connect with on a heart level is key, Peterson says: "You want someone you can be yourself with, someone you can be vulnerable with, who is going to connect to your personalities. It's equally as important for the partner. This can be a vulnerable time for him or her."

Not the touchy feely type? Seek out a doula or midwife who excels in offering practical and logistical support.

A good birth worker will be ready to talk philosophy, says Peterson, so don't shy away from big questions ; they'll help you tease out whether your worldviews align.

"Ask the midwife what she thinks of birth," she suggests.

"Does she view it as a natural process or is she constantly thinking of emergencies?"

When hiring a doula, ask about epidurals and other interventions ;is she supportive of your hopes to use or forgo certain treatments? The last thing you need during labor is a battle of values.

"Doulas go into this business because they believe in the birth process, but maybe they differ on what choices they think women should make," Peterson says. "Finding a doula who will support you in your choices is important."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

3. Check credentials and past clients

A "good vibe" is no substitute for watertight bona fides. This is especially important with doulas, whose training can vary.

A birth worker should offer details on certifications earned and trainings attended, and Peterson additionally suggests asking after metrics: How many births has a doula attended? How often do a midwife's clients have interventions like cesarean sections or episiotomies?

"If a provider doesn't know their numbers, I'd be concerned," she says.

Good birth workers will also provide references, Peterson says. And be sure to ask former clients how supported they felt during labor, even if the process was challenging. Some births are just plain difficult, no matter the skill of the worker.

4. Vet backups

Due dates aren't an exact science, and as there's a chance your worker won't be available when baby arrives, it's crucial to ask about their backups. Do backup workers share a similar philosophy? Can you meet them? Unknowns are part-and-parcel to birth; anticipating this variable will quell uncertainty on your big day.

Should you hire a doula or midwife?

Michele Peterson, ICD, CD(DONA) with her second son, Caleb Photo by Skye Houghton/Skye Fine Art Photographics

DoulaMatch: http://doulamatch.net

DONA International: http://www.dona.org

Midwives Alliance of North America: http://mana.org

 

Erin J. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer from Portland, Oregon. Before becoming a writer, Erin worked as a nanny and an ESL classroom teacher. She taught English at a Montessori school in Mexico and then ran an after-school language program in South Korea. Erin is the editor of the parenting guide, “Instructions Not Included: A Pediatrician’s Prescription for Raising the Best Kids on the Block,” written by Irwin H. Berkowitz, MD.

You might also like.

Close
facebook
Hit "Like" to see babyMaternity on Facebook
Thanks, hide this for now.