With all the options now available, creating your birth plan can be both incredibly exciting and a little overwhelming. Will you go all-natural or take advantage of pain medications? Midwife or traditional OB-GYN? Hospital or birthing center or maybe a home birth?
Whether you’ve nailed down all these big decisions or not, you’re here because you know one thing for sure, you want to have a doula on your birth team. A doula can help guide you through the process of bringing your little one into the world in a way that healthcare professionals are not always available to. From childbirth education all the way to post-partum care, your doula will be your personal birth assistant, your coach, your medical jargon translator, your advocate, and your friend.
So, how do you make sure you choose the right one? And where do you start looking? Keep reading to find tips for finding and hiring just the right doula in St. Louis. Here are some local recommendations and other things to keep in mind as you search.
As you begin the search for your birth doula, it is important to remember what a doula is and is not.
A replacement for your OB-GYN or midwife. A doula is an addition to your birthing team, not a replacement for your primary care provider. While your doctor or midwife is primarily focused on your and your child’s medical well-being, a doula is there to support you and your family in all the other areas of your birth experience.
A trained medical professional. Your doula is there to be a member of your support team, not your medical team. Though she will not be offering you medical advice, she will be able to share her experience and help guide you through the process of making decisions that line up with your overall birth plan objectives. Doulas are also able to assist with many non-medical strategies of pain management, such as aromatherapy, music, massage, reflexology, or mental mantras.
An educator. These women are experienced in all aspects of the birth process. Their job is to share their knowledge with you, answer your questions, and empower you to make informed, thoughtful decisions throughout your birth and postpartum journey. Doulas help you take the most active role possible in your birth experience.
A birth-coach. Having a doula on your birth team means you will always have someone whose only job is to provide you and your family with the emotional and physical support you need during labor and delivery. Your doula can help push you a little bit further than you thought you could go and do everything possible to help you achieve your birth goals.
An advocate. A doula can also serve as the ambassador between you and your medical team. She can help to translate medical language into terms you understand. She can help explain any necessary procedures. She can also communicate your goals and wishes to your doctors and nurses when you are unable to do so yourself.
What Should I Look For in a Doula?
Now, with all that in mind, what are the most important things to look for in a doula? St. Louis has many potential options for doula care, so keep these criteria in mind as you conduct your interviews.
Compatibility and comfort. You are going to invite this person into one of the most intimate moments of your life. You are going to rely on her to educate, coach, comfort, and advocate for you through the birth of your child and beyond. The relationship between you and your doula will be more than a professional one, it will be an intimate partnership. So, trust your gut and be sure you are 100% comfortable with the person you are hoping to hire. Above all else, the chemistry, understanding, and comfort between you and your doula are the most essential aspects to get just right.
Similar birth philosophy. It is important to find a doula who is compatible with your birth plan and goals. Talk with your potential doulas about what they think is most important in a birth experience. Be sure that the doula you hire is comfortable supporting the type of birth you want to have. If you are planning on a hospital delivery, but your doula only believes in home births, your birth philosophies are not compatible. (Most doulas are happy and prepared to support all kinds of births, including c-sections). Also, talk about what religious traditions or spiritual practices are important to you, and be sure your doula is happy to support you in them.
Training and experience. Is your doula certified? Where did she train? How long has she been working as a doula? How many births has she attended? The answers to these questions will matter more to some mothers than others, but asking the questions is always a good place to start. What matters most is finding a doula who has experience with the type of birth you are planning for. If you are pregnant with multiples, are going to attempt a vaginal delivery after a c-section, or want an epidural as a part of your birth plan, you may want to find a doula who has experience supporting mothers with similar conditions or considerations.
Services offered. Many doulas offer support services for before, during, and after the birth of your child. If you specifically want a doula who will provide a lot of pre-natal support and education, or you want a doula who provides post-partum support and lactation consulting, be sure to ask if your potential doula provides these services.
Reputation and reviews. Ask around in the community about your doula candidates. Look them up online and see if there are any online reviews you can read. Take a look at their websites and read through their client testimonials. This won’t give you a complete picture of the quality of their services, but it’s a great place to start. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure if a doula will be a good fit for you is to set up an interview and start talking.
By far, the best way to find your birth doula is to ask around for recommendations. People who are very satisfied with the doula care they received will almost always be happy to recommend the doula they used. Family and friends, community groups, OB-GYNs and midwives, and even Facebook mom groups for your neighborhood, are all great places to start getting recommendations. There are also a few online directories you can use to look up or find a doula. Dona.org, the National Black Doulas Association, and DoulaMatch.net are all great resources in your search for the right birth doula. If you still need help getting started, I have listed below a few options for your St. Louis doula.
Anna the Doula: Certified with both DONA International and through Jamaa Birth Village, Anna has four years of experience and has attended over 25 births. Anna believes all birthing people should feel love and support while becoming parents. Numerous clients have written testimonials praising her knowledge, respect for her clients’ wishes, calm demeanor, and overall support of their birth journey. Click here to learn more information.
Magnolia Birth Doula Services LLC: Certified through DONA International, Stephanie has five years of experience and has attended over 147 births. Stephanie finds her purpose in helping mothers find the power within to birth their babies as only they know-how. Many clients have written testimonials describing her kindness and care, her calming presence at their births, and her great knowledge about all aspects of the birthing experience. Click here to learn more information.
Purple Lotus Doulas: Purple Lotus Doulas is a doula cooperative serving the greater St. Louis region. This doula service has a staff of doulas who are all certified and have various levels of experience. They offer experienced, full-spectrum pregnancy, birth, and postpartum services. Their birth education classes are highly praised and the doulas on their team all have great client testimonials for you to read through. Click here for more information.
Heart and Hands Doula Care: Certified through DONA International, Rebecca has four years of experience and has attended 36 births. Rebecca is passionate about supporting birthing parents and helping them have their best birthing experience. Her clients have left her numerous testimonials praising her calming presence even during difficult births, respect for her clients’ choices, and her kind and attentive manner. Click here for more information.
BeeReady Doula Services: Certified by DONA International, Brandi has four years of experience and has attended 48 births. Brandi’s only goals are a healthy baby and a healthy mama. She provides services for the whole length of your new parent journey. Clients have written testimonials describing her ability to anticipate their needs, her skill at providing education, and her calming presence in the birthing room. Click here for more information.
I hope this guide to doula selection helps you on your path to finding your birth doula. Having the right people surrounding you during this life-changing experience is so important. Finding the right doula is the first step to taking a more active role in your birthing experience.
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