You just found out you're pregnant, maybe you've been to your first prenatal appointment with your provider, and now you're trying to figure out the rest of the logistics surrounding the birth of this new little being you're starting to grow. Perhaps your provider mentioned a doula or maybe your friend had one and you're curious about getting one for you, too. Fantastic! Let's delve into things.
For starters, there is no wrong time to hire a birth doula. I've had people reach out to me prior to conception all the way up to 39 weeks (I signed contract on a Sunday and that client was in labor on Tuesday and birthed on Thursday). Now, having said that, the sooner you can get one booked, the better, and there are a few reasons for this.
For one, we doulas only take on so many clients a month, and some doulas like to space their estimated due dates (EDDs) out some while others, like me, are okay with having them back-to-back (I'm on-call anyways, so I may as well be on-call all at once, and babies come when they want to!). By reaching out to doulas early, you can interview as many as you'd like and have a good amount to choose from that way. Booking early means that you're put into their calendar and they can start planning your prenatal appointments with you so that you can be as prepared as you can get.
There's a lot that goes into prepping for your labor and delivery. Not only do we like to have that magic number we've come up with booked in advance, but we like to make sure that we form a connection with you, and your partner (if applicable). We like to get to know who you are and what you desire for your birth so that we can work together to make that happen as much as possible.
During those prenatal visits, we ask a lot of questions. We want to know what kind of birth you envision having, how we fit into that scenario, and how we can create a plan that helps to ensure that you're listened to, well-informed, and as ready as can be for the big day. We build a birth plan with you, that covers all of those wishes (everything from how you want the room to feel to what medical professionals you want present during your labor and delivery, for example) and outlines your preferences so that no matter who comes in your room, they're all on the same page, working towards the goals that you set forth for yourself.
We also discuss, in detail, what your postpartum is going to look like, who's going to be a part of it, and how we help support you during that time, too. Because having a baby is far more than just the labor and delivery; the real work begins once baby arrives and you have to get to know that new person. There's feeding plans, figuring out how to get you sleep, making sure you're nourished, fed, and cared for, and even planning on going back to work eventually, to name a few things.
So, yes...the sooner you book a birth doula, the better. However, life happens sometimes and maybe a birth doula was the last thing you were thinking about as you rode through those 10 months of pregnancy and now the time is near and you're desperately needing support. Most of the time, we doulas will find a way to fit you into our schedule and get those prenatal visits planned so that you can be as supported as you can be for this life-changing event.
The simple answer is...it's always a good time to hire a birth doula. The sooner you can get one, the better off and more prepared we can help you be, and that is hardly ever a bad thing.