“Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one.” – Gloria Steinem

How to choose a doula (hint: it’s all about oxytocin!)

Choosing a Doula

Montreal is fortunate to have an absolutely wonderful community of doulas—people who dedicate their lives to helping expectant and new parents have an informed, positive, nurtured, and empowering pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of it.

Maybe you’ve decided that you might want a birth or postpartum doula. You did a little Google search, found some pretty websites or Instagram accounts. Maybe you’ve gotten referrals from friends who hired or know doulas. Perhaps you’ve even contacted one or two of these doulas and chatted on the phone or exchanged messages. Services offered differ somewhat, but overall are starting to look fairly similar to you. Possibly the same deal with prices, certifications, qualifications, all of that. And all the doulas seem like lovely people who are passionate about birth and postpartum.

So, how in the world do you decide which doula to hire?

The ideal thing to do is schedule in-person consultations with a few doulas you’re considering. Most doulas—myself included—offer a consult free of charge. It’s usually just an informal meet-and-greet, get-to-know-you chat for 45 minutes or so. You’ll have the chance to talk about yourself and your needs and, of course, to ask questions.

Now let’s talk about oxytocin for a second.

If you don’t know what this hormone is, you’ll start hearing a lot about it soon, because we often hear about oxytocin primarily in the context of childbirth. Indeed, it’s oxytocin (either natural or artificial) that triggers uterine contractions during and after labour and birth and enables milk to be released during breastfeeding. It also helps us bond to our newborns.

In fact, oxytocin regulates social interaction as well, building connection and trust with others. Often dubbed “the love hormone,” you can get an oxytocin boost by experiencing anything that makes you feel comfortable, peaceful, or joyful.

You want to feel an oxytocin boost when you meet with a potential doula.

That is, you want to feel comfortable, peaceful, or joyful (or any combination thereof!) with her.

Absolutely, ask the doula all the questions you want, about her experience, her birth philosophy, her training, the specifics of the services she offers. But then see if you can get out of left-brain analysis mode, and pay attention to how you FEEL when you’re with her.

Do you (and your partner, if applicable) feel comfortable around this doula? Do you trust her? Do you walk away from the meeting energized, maybe even excited? Do you “click”? Does she seem to “get” you and what you want, what you need? Do you find yourself opening up to her? If so, then she’s probably the doula you want to go with.

If you walk away from the meeting unsure, by all means, contact another doula. Or even two or three more.

Sure, I would love for you to pick me! But I think most doulas would agree with me when I say that the most important thing is that you find the right doula for YOU. Because this is YOUR pregnancy, YOUR birth, YOUR adventure in new parenthood.

You deserve the most fabulous doula for YOU—whether that’s me or another Montreal doula.

About the author: I’m Heather Marr, a certified birth doula in Montreal, mom of two, and eternal wanderluster. When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood, it’s about the journey AND the destination. I’ll support you every step of the way.

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