Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Are you familiar with my doctor/midwife/hospital/birth center? Do you get along well with my caregiver?
Each of our doulas attends births at most of the major local hospitals, though we each tend to frequent certain hospitals with our clients. We encounter doctors and midwives from many different practices, and we are able to work well alongside each of them. Our job is to support you in your labor; as such, we share the same goal as your care provider. We will not speak for you, but will help you communicate your needs and wants, and may offer suggestions of questions you may ask of your care providers. We find this helps maintain an amicable environment, and allows you to maintain control over your birth experience.
2. When would you join me during labor?
We plan to join all our families in their homes, to labor in a peaceful, relaxing, and familiar environment before transitioning to the hospital / birth center. We make it a point to follow our families' leads in letting us know when our support is needed -- which means that often, when families are laboring fine on their own, we end up meeting up at the hospital. We are prepared to support you when needed, but never wish to impose our presence too soon.
3. Which labor-coping techniques do you tend to use with clients?
There are a number of different approaches to labor coping; the "big three" are Bradley, HypnoBirthing, and Lamaze. Which technique you choose is really a matter of personal preference, and we are happy to make recommendations for classes that may be appropriate for you. Each of our doulas brings to your birth a "labor kit" filled with all sorts of helpful tools, such as massage balls, hot/cold packs, honey sticks, etc. But we rarely use these tools -- most of the time, gentle touch, encouraging words, and experienced guidance are what is needed above all else. :)
4. How would you work with and involve my partner?
As your doula, we work in close partnership with your partner to support you in your labor and birth. No one knows you better than your partner, so we often rely on your partner for guidance on how we may best support you. We also offer your partner the guidance and encouragement necessary to help you through this sometimes overwhelming experience, and to make informed decisions for your care as needed.
5. How are your fees determined?
Our doulas' fees are set based on experience and certification; newer doulas' fees are lower, and more experienced doulas' fees are higher.
6. What's your refund policy?
It is never in the doula's scope of practice to make any decisions for you or your family regarding the outcome of your experience. We can help to facilitate communication between you and your care provider, but any such decisions are ultimately up to you and that care provider (with input as desired from your family). Along those same lines, doulas do not guarantee a particular outcome for your experience. You are hiring a doula to provide physical, mental, and emotional support during your transitional period. And we provide that support no matter what choices you and your partner/family make for the type of experience you would like to have, and no matter what medical or other situations may arise along the way. Once you have hired a doula and paid her fee, she provides unconditional support, and her fee for that service is not refundable.
We will make every effort to provide the services described here, or to have a suitable backup doula attend to you in our place if your doula is unable. Sometimes this is not possible (e.g., when things move quickly or change suddenly). If a missed birth is due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, or your failure to call your doula, no refund will be issued. If, however, you determine by with at least four weeks' notice (i.e., by the 36-week mark of your pregnancy) that your doula’s services are no longer needed, you may cancel the contract at that time and no further services will be offered. In that case, the retainer is kept, but no further payment is required. After 4 weeks prior to the anticipated dates of service, the full payment is non-refundable.
7. Do you have anyone else due near the time I'm due?
Each of our doulas accepts only a few clients each month, and we leave a comfortable window between due dates to limit the likelihood of overlapping births.
8. Do you have a backup arrangement in case you cannot attend my birth? Can I meet the back-up doula?
We operate on a one-on-one basis (one doula working directly with each family), so you know exactly which doula will attend your birth. We make every effort to attend your birth as planned; however, mitigating circumstances sometimes arise. Because we're a group of doulas, we consistently offer each other back-up support, so you can rest assured that you will have appropriate coverage for your birth. In the event that you have a particularly long labor and your doula becomes exhausted and unable to support you appropriately, she may call her back-up doula to tag-team with her so that you have continuous support. We usually have a primary back-up for each client, who you are of course welcome to meet at any time.
9. May I talk to a few of your recent clients?
We would be happy to put you in touch with appropriate references for whichever of our doulas you choose to work with.
Most important is whether you feel your doula is a good fit for you. Please be honest about this! We would much prefer to work with you if you're comfortable with us than if you're not sure, or don't want to offend us by saying so. If we are unable to support you as you need to be supported, we can refer you elsewhere.