When is the Best Time to Hire a Doula?

If you are or ever have been pregnant, you know there are a million and one decisions to make. Midwife or obstetrician? Home? Hospital? Or birth center? What about a doula? Then you have to figure out how you want to birth: unmedicated, induced, etc. The list truly goes on and on. 

One popular question surrounding birth is "when should we hire a doula?" In short, whenever you're ready. There is no right or wrong time. While there could be good reasons to postpone hiring a doula, here are some benefits for doing so sooner rather than later. 


Not to toot our horn, but doulas are a huge wealth of knowledge! We've read books and watched videos on birth. We have favorite websites and apps. We know important people like IBCLCs, midwives, OBGYNs, chiropractors, and more that are ready to help make your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time as smooth as possible.

If you hire your doula early enough, you'll be able to prepare and make decisions throughout the span of your pregnancy, instead of cramming it all in at the bitter, and exhausted, end. Ideally, I would love if every client hired me around the 20 week mark. Then, it feels less like I'm overwhelming them with all.the.things. And let's be honest, who has time to read 3 books in four weeks? 

Busy Schedules

Like other in-demand professionals, doulas book up quickly, especially in a metroplex like DFW. Next time you're in a busy store, count up how many women you see that are obviously expecting a child. You're likely to see double digits if you're somewhere like Buy Buy Baby or Babies 'R' Us. Those are all women potentially wanting to hire the same doula you're interested in. As I write this in November, I am already fully booked for March and partially booked for April.

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Plus, many doulas, like myself, take a limited number of clients each month. Taking two estimated due dates per month allows me to be present for my family, involved in my community, and have some semblance of a social life. If you have an estimated due date around a holiday, you may have even slimmer pickings in the doula department because doulas travel like everyone else and often don't have partners with which they share on-call time. 

Payment Plans

It's not fun forking over hundreds of dollars for a doula in addition to the potentially thousands already associated with birth. Believe me, I get it. However, if you plan ahead of time, most doulas (myself, included) allow for payment plans.

My retainer fee is the only fee that I require upfront. The rest can be paid in whatever increment my clients choose, with the final payment due by 37 weeks. Obviously this isn't possible if I'm hired at 36 weeks or later (which has happened). The earlier you hire your doula, the further you can stretch out your payment and the less strained your finances will feel.

Relationship Building

As you are probably well aware, birth is a rather intimate experience. Most women are rather exposed when they deliver, and hello, let's not forget where the baby usually exits. To ensure a smooth labor that doesn't slow or stall, you'll want to be sure you are comfortable with every person present in the labor room. This includes your doula. 

Most likely, your relationship with your doula began the moment you hired her. Which means you will have a little bit of work to do in order to build your relationship from stranger in a coffee shop to intimate friend holding your leg while you bring forth new life. As we all know, good relationships take time to build. If you hire your doula early enough, you will have lots of opportunity to grow closer and more comfortable with her. 

There truly is no right or wrong time to hire a doula. If you're not ready, don't jump into it just because of the benefits of hiring early. Seek out several doulas in your area and meet with them. Ask questions that are important to you and go with your gut.

My initial consultation is always free. This is your chance to meet me, face-to-face, and get to know me and learn how I operate and how I support clients. To schedule this free consultation email me (cate@firstspringdoula.com) or fill out a contact form here. I would love to chat with you about your dreams!