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How to Find the Best Doula in Chicago: Agency v. Independent

Finding the right doula for you is so important. The key is that the right doula for you might not be the right doula for someone else. In Chicago, finding the best doula includes deciding if you want to go with an agency or a private doula and then interviewing potential matches. Read on for the low-down on the Chicago doula scene.


chicago skyline as part of article about finding a doula in chicago

Chicago residents are spoiled for doula options! Just google "chicago doula" and you will find pages and pages of matches. It can be overwhelming. There are so many excellent options, so it really comes down to your personal values and preferences. Start by considering the pros and cons of hiring a doula agency versus hiring an independent doula.


Doula Agencies

There are several large doula agencies in Chicago. Typically, they are run by former or experienced doulas. Agencies have several doulas available and set their own packages and prices. A quick Google search will yield plenty of options because they have the money to spend on marketing. I've worked with a handful of them and many are wonderful. Like any service, you need to do your research.


Pros:

  • Lots of doulas in one place; you don't have to find them, you just need to interview them

  • Larger pool of doulas means you are guaranteed to find someone with availability for your due date

  • Bigger marketing budget means they are easier to find

  • Think "one-stop shopping"


Cons:

  • Agencies take a healthy cut of the doula fee so it's not financially feasible longterm for most established doulas, leading to higher turnover

  • Often new doulas start at agencies so you can end up with a less experienced doula

  • If you interview the agency owner and love them, it can be a disappointment to then work with one of their doulas, rather than them

  • You only meet who they send you, and that might not include the best doula for you


Private Doulas

These are doulas who run their own private practice as a small business, like me. Often these doulas work alone but sometimes you'll find pairs and partnerships where two doulas work as a team. The best place to find independent doulas is DoulaMatch.com which allows you to filter by location, certification, etc.


Pros:

  • You know what you're getting, there is just one person behind the business; the vibe check is the vibe

  • Lots of customization is available, you're going to be treated like an individual and get lots of attention

  • You support a small Chicago business! Most of us go above and beyond as our services reflect our values and reputation

  • Think individualized support and personal touches


Cons:


No matter which way you go, the most important thing is that you find a reliable doula who you trust. There are so many great doulas in Chicago, and every interview is going to give you a bit more information. Don't be afraid to interview several of us (agency and not) before making a decision.

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