Doula services may or may not be covered by your insurance. A doula charges anywhere from $700 to $1400, depending on their experience. My policy with Regence did not cover a doula, so I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org to find a doula-in-training, who will have done training, but need to attend a certain number of births to become certified. In hiring a doula-in-training, the cost will be significantly less - $250 to $500 give or take. In the end it may come down to money for you, but if you can try to hire based on fit of personality to your birth wishes.
PALS Doulas also has good information on how to hire a doula. Having no experience at this, I started by reading up on the service that a doula can provide. When I reached out to the doula I knew that she was available, so it was a matter of meeting them. I had an initial conversation with two over the phone, before setting up an in-person meeting, just in case I did not click with them immediately. While I had some awkward silences as I was unsure what to ask, I turned the tables to have the doula tell me more about herself. While not everyone has the best phone skills, I gave one lady the benefit of the doubt and met her in-person; however my gut instinct was correct and I did not end-up going with her. It was about fit between my birthing wishes and her attitude. I was willing to accept less experience for more of a fit personally. The interview included my husband, so we could make the decision together.
My doula was interested in potentially becoming a midwife, so in addition to the two pre-birth meetings, I also brought her to two of my prenatal appointments for her to meet both my midwives. The doula is there for you during the birth, at what ever point you would like her to be, but mostly leading up to active labor. I had a scheduled induction, so my doula was there when I was admitted to review the induction plan and then returned when contractions picked up. Then, she was there for me until after the baby was born. A few days after she returned to see me post-birth, then again a week later and another couple of weeks later for the final meeting. It was sad to have such a connection with a person and then say goodbye. I made her a Thank you note that included a birth picture of my baby, a bottle of wine, and a generous tip.
Why I could not do without my doula:
- Able to talk about prebirth fears and plan should things materialize
- Comforted that my husband had support
- Knowledge about birthing process
- Reminded me about things that were important to me, in the heat of the moment
- She was my rock, my focus and my encouragement
- The massage of my lower back during contractions
- Letting me smack her hand when the pain was too much
- "Playing" the staring contest when I got my epidural inserted
- Advocate for my birthing wishes
- Post-birth check-in