When starting your birth journey and looking for a support team, you might ask yourself – what makes the PERFECT doula? Who would be that ideal person to work with me throughout this entire process? The truth is there is no one rulebook on selecting a doula. What works for you, may not for another person, and vice versa. Selecting the right doula is very much about your personal needs and individual situation.

However, over our 20+ years working with parents and families across the Greater Toronto Area, there are some characteristics we see repeatedly that help make effective doulas. If you’re in the process of looking or advising a loved one, here are 5 things to look for.

Calming Presence

Do you ever meet those people who just put you at ease? It could be anyone, a long-time friend, a new co-worker, or the barista at your favourite coffee shop. Some people just exude a level of calm that permeates through a room. That’s the kind of person you want as your doula. Birthwork can involve stressful and unexpected situations. Having someone who can be a calming presence in stormy waters can help make the experience better for everyone involved.


Doula work is very different than a traditional job. Sometimes you’ll get a call or text from a client at 2 am with a question. Or a labour could last anywhere between a couple hours and 36! Having a doula that is reliable can make a big difference. You can ask them about their approach to communication, when are they available, when are they not. How many clients do they typically have at one time? Do they have a backup doula in the event they can’t attend the labour? Find someone you know you can count on.

Team Player

There is the old saying that “it takes a village” and it’s so true with birthwork. There will be A LOT of people involved in some birth journeys, including doctors, midwives, family members, nurses, partners, and more! Having a doula that can seamlessly work with a variety of people and personalities can make all the difference. You want to have a team that works well together and that all starts with the doula. Does she seem to have a personality that will work well with others? You can ask specific situation questions to get a feel for their demeanour. Or ask about previous clients where they needed to work as part of a team.

Passionate about Birthwork

There are probably a lot of doulas in your area, but that doesn’t mean they are truly passionate about the work. For some people it might be something they are only dabbling in, or trying it out for the schedule flexibility, or because their friend told them about it. You want to find a doula that LOVES the work and is committed to being the best birthworker they can be. Some things to look for include: do they light up when talking about past clients? Are they coming across as super knowledgeable? Are they confidently answering a variety of questions? Throughout the interview process you’ll get a feel for whether this is truly something they love to do.

The Vibe

Ok, you’re probably like “what do they mean by the vibe?” This certainly isn’t the most scientific thing to look for, but you know it when you see it. After you’ve gone through your checklist of objective things to look for, sit back and as yourself do you click with this person? Is this someone you want to spend hours and hours of your life with? Sometimes a doula could be the perfect match on paper, but for whatever reason (and it’s no one’s fault) the vibe just isn’t right. In that case, trust your intuition and keep looking for a better fit.  

If you’re in the middle of your doula search, we can help! We have an amazing team here at Discover Birth. You can review all our doulas by clicking here.