For many women, the process of bringing on a doula can be a particularly stressful one. There’s the question of who, what, where, when, and how a doula will continue support throughout birth and beyond. So we’re bringing you From The Desk of a Doula, an ongoing series where we reach out to doulas in our network and community that can help answer your questions and offer us a glimpse into how they work, what they do and how their support goes way beyond the birthing experience.
First up is Mama Glow founder and maternal wellness expert, Latham Thomas, who’s served thousands of women on their pregnancy journey since 2003, when after giving birth to her son Fulano, she set out on a mission to help women reclaim birth. Since then, the New York-based wellness leader and master birth doula has been busy bridging the gap between optimal wellness, spiritual growth, and radical self care for a modern holistic lifestyle. We asked Latham if she could offer us some intel in finding the right doula for you, and the questions you should ask in advance to ensure your making the best choice for you and your baby.
According to Latham, you’ll want to find out a doula’s level of experience and their training. You’ll want to ask how many births they’ve attended and find out about their relationships with hospitals and doctors. She also recommends asking what other skills they can bring to the table in terms of support, such as massage, reiki, acupuncture, nutritional support or yoga. “Many doulas have layered skills to support you,” Latham says. “Because there’s no specific structure that supports this kind of work federally or otherwise, many doulas have to be versatile and have a lot of skill sets to differentiate themselves and to make ends meet. I have so many healing modalities that we bring extensive training on. The more skills your doula has in other areas, the better equipped you’ll be.”
From there, Latham also recommends finding out how many clients a doula will take on at a given time, aka how many exist in one specific “birth window.” “If they’re doing quite a few at once, you might have to work with a backup if someone signed on before you goes into labor late,” says Latham. “So find out how they work with back-up and whether you’re able to meet their back-up doulas.” Beyond the obvious, which are references and testimonials, you’ll want to know the extent of their experience and how that might affect their price. “If someone is earlier in their practice, they may have discounted rates if that’s something you’re interested in,” Latham says. “You might want to be a part of them building their portfolio, or you might want more experience. Rates really are arbitrary but they go based on experience.”
Lastly, Latham suggests doing a deep dive into a doula’s outside relationships, such as practitioners, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and others in the healing space. “If you need a reference for a new doctor, it’s great to know your doula has that relationship and you can lean on them for that,” Latham says. “There will be instances where you can’t get an appointment and having someone in your support circle with a relationship with a provider is helpful. It’s hard to navigate the practitioner space and who’s who and what’s worth what? Someone who can say, ‘Yeah, here’s someone you can call for this and this is game-changing throughout your pregnancy and beyond.'”