If you’ve decided to hire a doula for your birth experience, you are probably feeling overwhelmed, optimistic, confused, and maybe even a little lost. When you type “Nanaimo doula” into Google, you probably end up with pages of doulas that all sound pretty great. How do you even begin to find the right one for you?

Hiring a doula doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be!) stressful. Thankfully, most doulas offer a free consultation where you can ask them your questions and see if they are a good fit for you. Take advantage of this! Arrange to meet with your top 3-5 doulas and see who you vibe with. Take a notebook with the questions you want to ask them, but don’t forget to include these ones:

1. How does your practice work? What can we expect after hiring you?

Almost all doulas run their practices differently. Some go on call for you as soon as the contract is signed, others are on call for phone/email support, and others aren’t available to you until you’re about to deliver. Some doulas include prenatal appointments, while some strongly encourage you to take prenatal lessons. The kind of support you need is up to you, but be sure that the doula you hire is offering what you want.

2. What is your philosophy about birth? How do you feel about ___?

If you know what kind of birth you are planning (Home birth? Medicated birth? Induction?), ask your doula how they support those situations. Pay special attention to any biases you make pick up from their answer. If you’re still working on your birth plan, ask for some suggestions or ideas, and see how they feel to you. Some doulas work best in certain birth settings, and that’s okay- so long as you are being supported in the way you want!

3. What happens if my birth experience doesn’t go as planned (a planned home birth turns into a hospital birth, an induction is necessary, baby ends up in the NICU, etc)?

While we doulas love to encourage our clients to create birth plans, we know that birth doesn’t always go to plan! Your doula should have a plan in place for every possibility, including adjusting the support that they provide to you in any possible circumstance. If the doula says that their clients always have the birth that they plan or that if you hire them, you won’t need to worry about things happening differently than you

Birth is crazy unpredictable! Each doula you speak with should have a firm system in place with their backups. Even with the best of intentions, a doula can never guarantee that they’ll be able to make each and every birth they’re hired for- we can get sick, have injured kids, have car trouble… who knows! It’s important to have a clear idea of how your doula manages these unlikely circumstances, so that you’ll know that you have support when the time comes.

5. How will you support and work with my partner/family?

You are hiring a doula to benefit from their experience, knowledge, and support techniques- not to replace your family! It’s a great idea to have your partner attend your consultation with you so that you both can get a sense of who you’re hiring. Make note of how the doula speaks to and about your partner- are they ignoring them, or including them in the conversation? Are they asking them questions, too? Is the doula talking about how they will work with your partner, or are they hinting that they are planning to be your main support person?

The majority of getting to know your doula, planning your birth experience, and tailoring the doula’s support practices will come after you hire them, but the consultation is a great time to test the waters with a potential doula. Remember that it is okay to be picky! Planning your baby’s birth is one of the most important things you can do to feel good about it. This is a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life- make sure that the people you include in it are supportive, empowering, and are cheering you on every step of the way.