So you’ve gone through the Google process, done your due diligence and chosen the perfect doula for your family. You’ve signed the contract, paid the deposit and now… you are 2 months away from your first prenatal meeting. Or maybe you’ve squeezed in an early prenatal because you’re just so excited and now you’re 3 months way from the next. Or maybe you’ve hired one late in the game and your prenatal is a few weeks away but now that you have a doula, you’re not really sure how to use them.
Here are my top three tips for getting the most out of your doula
(Hint: Doulas want you to have a great experience and get the most out of hiring us, so please go ahead and employ these A.S.A.P.)
Tip 1: Client Intake Form
Your doula probably has some sort of system for client intake. Mine is a (lengthy) form that I send out to all clients. Some questions are straightforward (read: easy and boring) and others are open-ended (read: potentially intimidating/embarrassing/scary/overwhelming) or vague (read: huh?). For example, I ask “What is your vision for this birth?” and “How do you stay low stress? In what ways do you deal with stress in your life? What makes you feel calm and grounded?” Regardless of whether it’s a straightforward intake form or a bit more involved like mine, take your time. The more information that you directly and clearly provide for your doula, the better we can support you. Rather than answering right away, sit with the questions and really reflect on how best to answer. If I know that going for a walk helps you to stay low stress, I can suggest that we go for one before or after our prenatal meeting (or during midnight contractions). If I know that you like to sit on the couch and cry during a romcom, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be suggesting at some point we do that too. Use the intake form as a way to open up to your doula and help them get to know you. (ProTip: If you’ve already filled out the intake form and are now inspired to re-do it, just message your doula and they will GLADLY send you another one. We want to know as much as we possibly can about you.)
Tip 2: Take a Quality Childbirth Education Class
Yes, you’ve hired a doula and yes, we can provide you with all sorts of great information but when we’re together at a prenatal meeting I only have so much time. If we have two prenatals that last a total of six hours, some of that time is spent building our relationship and figuring out how to make your birth special. A childbirth education class is where you can learn about different practices (episiotomies, vacuums, delayed cord clamping, etc.) and information (for example, breastfeeding: pumping, feeding with spoons/cups, feeding on demand, etc.) which is awesome. You can then take all of that information and all of those questions you’ll suddenly have in the car on the way home (and the next day while you brush your teeth, while you eat lunch, getting a pedicure, etc.) and ask your doula about them. The more you know about childbirth, the more options you have. Your doula will often go through a birth plan with you but it’s really hard to go through every single option for every single element of a birth. The more you educate yourself, the more we can help you find quality information about what you’ve heard to make the best decision for you.
Tip 3: Buzz Buzz
Message us. Text us when you’re going for an appointment with your care provider, let us know when you’ve had a particularly bad bout of morning sickness, let us know that your allergies are flaring up, call us when you’re so excited because you’ve finally finished the nursery/found out the gender/took your first prenatal yoga class. Keep us in the loop. I know that traditionally no one wants to be the person who messages first, but doulas do try to respect your space and we will wait for you to reach out to us. If I haven’t heard from you in a couple weeks I’ll shoot you a message, but if you let me know when your next appointment or ultrasound is, then you’ve let me know when it’s appropriate to reach out to you. Doulas love to be in the kept in the loop because the more we know about what’s going on, the better we can serve you. Doulas have a wealth of knowledge on so many different topics and all it takes is a ‘buzz buzz’ with a question or concern and we’ve got you.