Wednesday, August 5, 2009

17 Weeks and the Great Doula Search

I am not sure how it has been 17 weeks already. Suddenly, time is really flying by. Overall, I feel good. I'm sleeping just okay, in part because I pee 3-4-5 times a night, but I'm managing. I'm a little worried about not gaining enough weight, since it has gotten so hot that eating is the last thing I want to do (let alone cooking!). All I feel like is cheese and popsicles. I decided to start doing weekly updates from here on out, and posting my weight gain so that I can keep track of it, since I'm a little neurotic about it. So, here it is:

17 weeks: weight +10 pounds since getting pregnant; +19 pounds since I started trying to gain weight in order to GET pregnant (no wonder my clothes don't fit!).

I had a little scare yesterday, which hasn't really happened since I stopped the progesterone suppositories at 12 weeks: spotting. I've been taking it pretty easy, drinking lots of fluids, etc., so it kind of freaked me out. It was really light--no more than the size of a nickel on my underwear, and reddish-brown. I never saw anything when I wiped. I don't think it's probably anything to worry about, given how light it was, but I'm keeping an eye on it. My doctor said that I could swing by the office any time to check the baby's heartbeat with the doppler, so I am thinking of doing that today. I haven't felt the need to do it yet, and we have the big u/s next week and I was thinking that I wouldn't need to go before then. But with this, I know it would set my mind at ease. I'm working from home today, just in case the spotting returns, so I can check in with my doctor if I need to. It's so funny, because if I were having this baby in most other countries, this wouldn't even be an option, and I would just have to suck it up and hope for the best. We Americans have really found a way to medicalize birth! But since I can take advantage of the technology, I might as well.

The doula search continues. I decided to break down my search thusly: First, I came up with a list of prospective candidates from my area, using the internet to research them. I came up with a dozen or so possibilities ( has the ability to search for a doula in your area, but there are other sites out there, like, etc. that do the same thing; DONA is one of the certifying bodies that doulas can participate in, so they have an air of reliability about them). Some of the doulas I found were really earth-mother-crunchy in a way that I knew would be tough for me to relate to, so I excluded those candidates. I am all about the miracle of birth, but when it hurts like hell, I probably won't want to hear about the beauty of it all.

After I came up with my list of potential candidates, I came up with a list of questions that I want answered, based on what's important to me. I decided that I would essentially handle questions in three parts: a basic list of questions about fees, availability, and services provided during the first email; if I liked the response to the first email, then a more detailed list of questions in a second email, which included things like whether the doula has a contract and can provide references; followed by a final, formal interview, where I plan on discussing things like birth philosophies. I want someone who will support me even if I cave and go with an epidural, etc. I don't want someone who might have an attitude change depending on the choices I make during labor.

After I cam up with the list of possible candidates, I sent about a half dozen emails to the prospective candidates on Saturday. One of my criteria for a good doula is timely responses; I think it's a bad sign if a doula isn't very responsive to emails. I heard back from three doulas right away, and in fact two of those had automated emails that they sent, letting me know that it was possible they were attending to another birht, and they'd return my email within 24 hours. I thought this was very professional. Of the three I heard from, one isn't available for my due date; one is talking to another candidate for my due date and will let me know if that other woman hires her; and the third one I really like, AND she's available. She has provided incredibly timely responses to my questions, has been really forthcoming in answering questions and providing references, and seems to have a great attitude. She is an RN and previously worked as an L&D nurse, and you can hire her to help you out with the baby after the baby's birth--all facts I really liked.

A fourth doula also responded to my email yesterday, but her response was so dismissive and lackluster that I don't think I'm even going to bother to send her a second email. The email answers my questions (barely), but is completely impersonal (she didn't even congratulate me on my pregnancy--not that I need that, but it seems like kind of an obvious thing to say under the circumstances), and she ended by wishing me good luck in my search for a doula. It didn't leave me with the impression that she's interested in being my doula, and the whole point here is to have someone who is enthusiastic and can help support me through the birth. In short, I want someone who cares, and I didn't get the impression she did.

I still haven't heard back from the other doulas. I know it's summer, but if this is evidence of the level of responsiveness they provide, I'm thinking they are not quite what I'm looking for.

So, I have one candidate that sounds really good. For anyone who's wondering, the average cost of a doula in my area is about $600, and the fee generally covers 1-2 prenatal meetings, unlimited email and phone calls, reserving the doula's time as being "on call" for two weeks before your due date up until the birth (haven't figured out yet what happens if you go early--that's a question for my in-person meetings), uninterrupted birth support, help with breastfeeding, etc. for a couple hours after the birth, and 1-2 postpartum visits. Some doulas also add in a birth class in your home, photos of the birth, an essay about your birth, etc. The doula that I like (of course) is a bit more than the average (probably because she's an RN; most are not), and doesn't include any extras. The only extra I'd be interested in, anyway, is the birth class, so that's not a big deal to me. A lot of doulas are also willing to barter doula services and take payment plans. I'm hoping to use my medical savings account to pay the doula, as we have leftover money after budgeting for some dental work that was much less than originally quoted by the dentist.


Kate said...

Congrats on 17 weeks! Stories like yours give me hope. Thanks for commenting with your own experience on my blog.

Io said...

It sounds like the one you have sort of by default so far is pretty good - I like that she's an RN too.

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