Part 3: So how do I find a doula?
But how do you choose your doula? Where do you find one?
If you have a midwife, most offices keep a list of doulas that work in the area. Even OB/GYN’s are beginning to come around to the idea of doulas as partners in the birthing process and asking at your doctor’s office could be a good place to start.
Ottawa is home to the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Center, located on Walkley Road. It can be a huge resource for parents looking for birth options and for links to local doulas. On the third Wednesday of every month, if you have a midwife, you can attend their Choice of Birthplace seminar and it can be very informative if you are on the fence about where you want to birth and the type of birth you are looking for. Especially for a first-time parent.
There is also word of mouth. Ask around among other pregnant friends, see if anyone recommends someone, and doing a google search for doulas in your area can also give you a place to start.
Finding a doula and choosing a doula are two different things. It’s a good idea to interview your doula options, ask about their previous experiences, their training (if they have any), maybe some references if they are really new. But when it comes down to choosing your doula it’s about connection. You might connect with the one who has 14 years experience or you might connect with the one who has just finished training and is looking for some experience. Pay close attention to how your gut feels about the doula.
“I think connection is one of the most important things,” says Anderson, “because it’s very intimate giving birth. You need to be careful with who you have there and the people who are there should be on your side and you should feel good about that.”
The process of birth can be an incredibly empowering experience for women, and a doula can help avoid traumatizing pitfalls that can stay with women long after the labour is over, affecting their mental health by increasing the chances of postpartum depression and making it more difficult for a mother to connect with their newborn in the days and weeks that follow.
Whether you enlist a doula to support you in your labour or not, please do your homework on what your rights are and be aware of the cascade of interventions that can lead to a less than optimal outcome for both mother and child. Medical advancements have saved a lot of children, but when people rely too heavily on machines and stop listening to their bodies, the scales tip back towards there being a potential for more trauma due to unnecessary interference. The US has some of the most medicalized births, relying very heavily on machines and interventions, but they also have worse birth outcomes than some third world countries, so those machines do not necessarily know better than a woman’s body what it needs to do.
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