Selecting a Vancouver Doula | Jessica Austin Birth Doula Services

Written by Jessica Austin, Vancouver Birth Doula

If you are looking for a doula in Vancouver, check out these 5 tips to make your selection process easier and give you your best chance of finding the right fit, or check out the Birth Takes a Village doula services in Vancouver.

1. Where to start looking for a Vancouver Doula.

You have a several options when it comes to beginning your hunt for your perfect doula here in Vancouver. Here are some good places to start:

  • Ask around! Your friends, birth attendant, or prenatal class instructor may have had experience with a local Vancouver doula they can recommend. Keep in mind, though, that choosing a doula is a very personal decision. The perfect doula for one person may not be the perfect doula for another. Always make sure to meet your potential doula in person before making the choice to have her attend your birth.
  • A simple Google search for “Vancouver Doula” or “Vancouver Birth Doula” will bring you up what seems like endless options. Going through some of the websites that come up can be a good way to start your search. Make sure to look for cues as to the doula’s birth philosophy to see if it is in line with your own. Does she support only home births? Only hospital births? Is she more comfortable supporting women who are planning unmedicated childbirth,  or does she generally support births for women who plan to use medical interventions such as pain medications? Is she a “comfort-measures-only” doula, or does she also provide education and help advocate for your wishes?
  • Doula Speed Dating. Adar Birth Services runs a doula speed-dating event every two months in Vancouver.  This form of doula selection can be great in the sense that you get an opportunity to meet several local doulas at once, and get a sense of who you feel comfortable with. One downside of this option is that you have limited time to spend with and get to know each doula. Your relationship with your doula will be a very personal one, and it is extremely important that you feel completely comfortable with her and trust that her birth philosophy is in line with yours. If you think you can establish this in a speed-dating setting, then this might be a good choice for you.
  • Doula Services Association of BC: The DSA is an organization that some doulas choose to become a part of, and there is a great Vancouver doula referral service on that site. The limitations of using this site is that doulas must be DONA Certified to get on their professional doula list, and even then, not all DONA-trained Vancouver doulas choose to become D.S.A. members. (
  • Doula Match: a similar database for locating doulas in Vancouver as the one offered by the DSA, but lists doulas from all types of backgrounds, not just DONA-trained doulas. (

2. Understanding Certification for Vancouver Doulas.

The Doula profession is not a government regulated one. There are various organizations that train and certify doulas, but not all doulas choose to train and/or certify under one of these certification models.  When looking for a doula, you may run across some of these doula certification or training programs:

  • DONA International
  • Birthing From Within
  • Hypno-doula Trainings
  • Gloria Lemay’s Doula Training Program
  • Doulas who have chosen not to certify: self-trained, mentored, experienced, or formally trained but not certified.

The type of training or certification a doula has is, in many cases, much less important than her own philosophy about birth and the personal connection you are able to establish with her.

For more information on this, see Certification for Doulas in Vancouver.

3. How much experience should you look for in a Doula?

This is a tricky one to answer, and depends on what you are looking for a in a doula. Some experienced doulas claim they did their best work for their clients during their first births.  This could be because newer doulas are more likely to be more unassuming, have fewer biases as to how a birth “should” go, and perhaps can more naturally follow mom’s lead. I am definitely am a different doula now than I was early on in my birth career with a lot more knowledge and experience to share, and I draw interest from different types of clients than I did when I first started, have seen a lot of different types of births from twins to home VBACs and have worked with a wide range of primary care providers. I can offer a lot more now in terms of providing education and information about options.  Make sure your doula confidently and knowledgeably can answer the questions you have, and seems to have access to a variety of resources for pregnant women in Vancouver. The type of support you are looking for will determine whether you prefer a doula who is more or less experienced.

4. How to judge if your Vancouver doula will be the right fit for you.

The two most important factors in making a good doula choice are:

i) Her birth philosophy is in line with yours. This is your body, your birth, your experience. Feeling 100% supported by your doula and other support people during birth gives you a huge leg up for having a positive birth.

ii) That you feel comfortable and at ease with her. The most experienced doula who is completely aligned with your birth philosophy will be of little use if she makes you nervous or uncomfortable! This is why the face-to-face intital interviews that most doulas offer are so important. Spending some time with your potential doula will give you a good sense of how well you “click” with her.

5. Sorting out some logistics.

Here are some practical questions to have answered by your potential doula before making your final decision:

i)  How long will it take your doula to get to you when you need her? It is generally reasonable to expect your doula to be able to get to you within an hour or two during the period she has agreed to be on call, and most Vancouver doulas will commit to this for their clients.

ii) What is her on-call period? Most doulas will expect to be on call around-the-clock from between  your 37-42nd weeks of pregnancy.

iii) Does she have a back up doula? Birth is unpredictable! Your doula will do everything she can to be reachable and available as you reach your due-weeks, but it is always good if she works with a back-up you can call in an emergency situation. Although it is unlikely I would need to call in back-up for my clients’ births, my doula services include monthly meet-the-back-up nights so clients have the opportunity to meet my back-up team of two doulas who share similar skills and philosophies with me. Read about my back-up system here.

If you are looking for a Vancouver doula, most offer a free initial interview / consultation to determine whether or not you and they are a good fit.  You may wish to consult with a few doulas before making your choice in order to get a good sense of your options.

If you have questions about doula services in Vancouver or would like to schedule a free consultation with me, phone 604-700-4115  or email

Jessica Austin, Birth Doula in Vancouver, BC. Read More about me and my services here

What have clients said about my Vancouver Birth Doula services?

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  6 comments for “Selecting a Vancouver Doula | Jessica Austin Birth Doula Services

  1. Marie Baleine
    March 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Great article as always! I will put a link on my website as well. Thank you for this. Marie

  2. August 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    How did I just find this Jessica? This is great would you mind if I put a link on my page? Keep up the good work. – Morag

  3. Rhia
    March 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks for posting these tips! Just wanted to point out that you do NOT have to be certified to be on the DSA’s referral lists. And just as not all DONA-trained doulas choose to become a member of the DSA, not all doulas are listed on Doulamatch, either. Other organizations that offer training include Childbirth International, International Childbirth Eduction Association and toLabor (formerly ALACE). These are gaining in popularity amongst Vancouver doulas as well! Thanks for listing this information for families seeking birth doulas in Vancouver!

    • March 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Thanks so much, Rhia! Funny, I spoke to someone involved with DSA, and they told me you needed to be certified. Happy to know that’s not the case.

      And thanks for recommending some other options for certification. Of course, no site or listing is going to have ALL doulas… every doula decides for herself where she will be listed. I know a lot of people will send parents straight to the DSA site or to doula match, and people are certainly missing out on a lot of options if those are the only spots they explore. 

      Thanks so much for these really helpful comments!

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