The question that we will be discussing today is: “What happens when a doula begins working with a family? How can a doula help before the labor process begins?”
This is a great question, and one that is asked frequently. I am also often asked when the most optimal time to hire a doula is. We will be discussing both of these things today.
When I get an inquiry from a client, it is often coupled with, “is it too late?” or “is it too early” to be reaching out to you?
It is never too late to hire a doula. The only deadline to hiring a doula is availability. We will talk about that in a moment. As long as your desired doula is available during the month of your estimated due date, any time is the right time to hire them. The job of a doula is to support the birthing family, and that looks different with every single client. As a result doulas are very comfortable supporting families that they haven’t spent a lot of time with. One of the very first families that I worked with as a doula was one that I had only met a single time prior to the birth. We had no trouble getting into a groove, me figuring out what they needed, and how to make it happen without disturbing their connection with each other. I still keep in touch with this family today, and I am very glad that we were able to work together despite our lack of lead time before the birth.
It is never too early to hire a doula. Doulas can offer support throughout your entire pregnancy, as well as during labor, and postpartum. During pregnancy a doula can answer many questions, ease fears, and make suggestions on ways to ease discomfort. Having a doula on your team throughout your pregnancy means that you no longer have to rely on Google for answers or ideas because you have access to an experienced support person who can give you evidence based information any time you need it. Throughout your pregnancy, your doula will also schedule one or two prenatal appointments with you. During these appointments you will be discussing your desires for your birth with your doula, and talking about your plan of action for when the big day arrives.
If you know that you would like to have a doula as a part of your team you may as well enlist them early so that you can take advantage of all that they have to offer you.
It is hard to predict when our calendars will fill, and we do sometimes have last-minute availability. But, for the family who knows that they would like to hire a doula, the time to meet and hire your doula is right now.
If you are unsure about whether you are even interested in a doula or not, I recommend setting up a consult or two with doulas in your area so that you can ask your questions and get a better sense of how a doula can be helpful to you, in your choices and your birth.
For those of you that like solid numbers, I would say that the majority of my clients contact me somewhere around 20 weeks. Hope to hear from you soon!
About the author:
Shawna is Co-Founder, Birth Doula, and Childbirth Educator at Third Coast Birth. She loves joining the support community of her clients, and having the privilege of walking with people as their families grow and change.
Her favorite thing about being a doula is bearing witness to new life at each birth she attends. Every birth is so different, but watching a woman bring life into the world is consistently awe inspiring.