by Rita L. Shertick RN, BSN, LCCE, CLE
Rita is a staff nurse at Downey Regional Medical Center’s Family Birth Center. She is a Lamaze certified childbirth educator and a certified lactation educator.
First thought: Yeah, we’re pregnant
Second thought: OMG, what are we going to do?
You know your partner wants to be your coach for this wonderful experience, but some experienced support would also be appreciated.
Many conversations later, with family and friends, you decide to find a birth doula. Who are they? Why are they available? What questions should you ask them? Where do you find one? You search www.dascdoulas.org, the birth and parenting resources of the Wet Set Gazette, have more conversations with family and friends, and finally you do some interviewing. To get you started, I asked questions of five birth doulas in our area. Below are their responses and recommendations for other questions you should ask when interviewing for a birth doula.
1). Any special skills?
Emilee: Kundalini yoga teacher, infant massage instructor, massage therapist, placenta encapsulation
Margie: Aromatherapy, hypnosis, pregnancy massage, Reiki, fetal positioning, working with abuse survivors, acupressure, and breastfeeding
Lysa: Certified massage therapist, aromatherapy
Giuditta: birth hypnosis, workshops on baby care, massage therapist, cook, baby usher, breastfeeding, also postpartum doula. Author “Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth”
Tracy: Birth Hypnosis for 12 years, diapering workshops, strong education in the birth process and navigating the hospital system, pregnancy massage, Reiki, optimal fetal positioning, working with abuse survivors, breastfeeding support.
2). How and why did you become a birth doula and what is your background?
Tracy: Lots of previous “people” jobs, among them: counseling Vietnam Vets, training dogs for people with disabilities other than blindness. Signed up for doula training 24 hours after hearing about it on a Today Show segment in 1996, knew it was the perfect job for me.
Giuditta: After being laid off from a TV producer/director job, I asked the Universe for guidance, and was lead to be a lactation educator and next a doula. I attended my first birth and it was love at first sight.
Margie: Raising my children, I knew I wanted to support women in birth but not in a medical capacity. When I learned about doulas, I knew I had finally found the right career.
Lysa: My first birth I took childbirth classes and felt informed but ended up with a caesarean. I felt I could have benefited from more support. My second birth was a successful VBAC (Vaginal Delivery After Caesarean), I made the decision based on information not fear, and now I want to give women the guidance and support not offered to me.
Emilee: Family and friends continually asked me to attend their births, I did it because I really enjoyed it and they seemed to benefit from my attendance. When I found out there was training to be a birth doula, I awoke to my calling. My goal is to help new parents feel comfortable, prepared and educated for this sacred passage.
3). Now you discuss the pros and cons of each doula.
One of you likes the experienced grandmother type support, the other likes the calm motherly type, but the young bubbly one was very enthusiastic and had such positive energy. No scratch that, all of them had positive energy—the type of energy you want directed for your well being at this pivotal time in your life.
4). Time to consider the cost, what are the choices?
Some doulas have a pay scale for different levels of services offered. How many massages and classes do you think you’ll need? How many post partum visits? A friend had a doula for barter, a few months of free meals in their restaurant, or how about servicing her car. What can you offer in exchange for a doula’s services? And yes, she will have a contract for signing, it is a business transaction. Fortunately many insurance companies will now reimburse. If yours doesn’t, submit anyway, listing all the benefits you experienced. If you are looking for a birth doula in training, she’s $200.00 or less, budget not a problem, maybe up to $1,800.00. Generally a doula expects payment in full at least a week before your due date.
877-436-8528, 877 I-Doula-U
www.joyinbirthing.com free virtual doula service
Rita L. Shertick, RN, BSN
Downey Regional Medical Center’s Family Birth Center