You have completed your doula training and required reading for certification. In your excitement, you have told everyone who will listen to you about doulas and their benefits. Now you have your first clients. Then you have the realization: You have been trained for the delivery room, but are uncertain how to proceed during the initial consultation and prenatals.
To get started, a few forms and questionnaires will foster communication between you and you clients that will help you to have clarity about what is expected from both parties. First and foremost is the contract, sometimes called a fee agreement or informed consent. A solid contract has all parties names and signatures with dates, what services are included, what services are not included, and consideration (even if the amount of consideration $0 or bartered).
As you gain experience, you will modify your services and your contract to better suit you and your clientele. For instance, some doulas add clauses to the basic contract that cover such topics as a scheduled induction or cesarean since these circumstances may eliminate the need for on call availability and the doulas schedule may be considered. Also, this form can be modified to serve the postpartum doula, massage doula, or placenta encapsulator. The form provide has a sliding fee. You may insert you set fee once it has been determined.
Questionnaires help give you an idea what your client is expecting from you as her birth attendant. They may also be a tool for opening dialogue and be used as an educational tool about standard procedures. They may also be used as the information that can be covered in a birth plan or birth preferences document.
Some doulas prefer to go over documents like these during the initial consultation so that every on is clear on what is expected by both parties. Others prefer to email them before hand so that the prenatal visits can be focused on the preparations of labor.
Most of my clients deliver in a hospital setting with Obstetricians. Therefore, I attend at least one doctor’s prenatal visit with them. The purpose is to foster communication between all parties involved in the birth team. My doula mentor was also a labor and delivery nurse of 16 years and she knew the etiquette that is used with medical professionals. She has given full permission to use these forms that we use during the prenatal appointment with the doctor.
In addition to the two documents above , I include a code of ethics and a sheet describing what I do. I also give these to the nurses at the nurses station upon arriving at the hospital. If your certifying organization has a code of ethics, you may use theirs. Otherwise, feel free to use this one or modify it to reflect how you practice.
For a professional look, you may want to print your forms on letter head or add your name and contact information to the bottom of each page.
All the best,