Just as every person is different, every doula brings a slightly different approach into the birthing space. Finding the birth doula who is the right match for you isn’t always easy.
Most doulas offer a free consultation meeting where you can interview one another, have a little Q&A session, and mutually decide whether there is a good fit. Essentially, the doula consultation is your opportunity to hold a job interview for your potential doula. But how can you interview someone to do a job you aren't very familiar with yourself?
Here is a list of some of the most helpful questions to ask a potential doula at your interview.
1. Can you provide references or reviews?
At a minimum, a doula should be able to offer you non-birth-related character references. Ideally, a doula should have satisfied clients who are willing to vouch for their skill, quality, and care in their field.
2. What kind of training did you have?
Currently, there is no one standard for doula training. Many doulas receive certification through various organizations, while others train through apprenticeships, hands-on experience, or reading courses. Some doulas are students, retired nurses or midwives, or don’t have any specific training except a love for and trust of the birth experience. Ask your doula about her unique background and decide if it is a good match for you.
3. What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Many doulas offer pamphlets or website information about their philosophy of care, and most of us love to talk about why we became doulas. Listening to a doula talk about what makes the job so great can give you a lot of insight into where their focus will be during your birth.
4. What are your fees, and what do they include? Under what circumstances do you offer refunds?
Let’s face it, price is a consideration in choosing a doula. The “average” price range for doula services can fluctuate wildly by region, as can what those services mean. Some doulas offer sliding-scale pricing or payment plans, others require payment up front. If price is a deal-breaker for you, make sure to be up front about it. Some doulas are not willing to negotiate, but many are!
Every doula will also have slightly different policies regarding payments and refunds, so be sure to understand these. Pricing and fees should be spelled out clearly in a contract; if they aren’t, that’s a red flag.
5. What happens if you can’t make it to my labor?
Many doulas work with a backup doula or doula group. Others have partners or offer full refunds for missed births. Be sure to find out what your potential doula’s contingency plan is so you know you won’t be left high and dry.
6. When do you join your clients during labor? How long do you stay?
Some doulas wait to join a client until they are sure that fully active labor has started. Others will be there with you the whole time. Some doulas limit their time to a maximum number of hours of labor, while others don’t. Avoid surprises by finding out up-front what to expect.
7. How will you support my partner/spouse/family during my labor?
Many doulas consider themselves to be there for your family as well as you. Sometimes this means coaching your partner or spouse through coaching you, sometimes it means gently telling your mother-in-law that now is a good time to head downstairs to the cafeteria and get everyone a round of lattes. Find out how this doula feels about interacting with your family.
8. How do you feel about natural childbirth? Epidurals? Planned C-sections? Breast or bottle feeding?
While doulas have a reputation for pushing “all-natural all the time” on their clients, many of us just want to support you in whatever kind of birth you end up needing. If you are on the fence about how natural you want your birth to be, make sure to get an idea of the doula’s position on these hot-button questions.
9. What kind of availability do you have for questions, concerns, or conversation before labor?
If you have a lot of questions or fears and not a lot of people to talk to, you may want to find a doula who has phone or email availability for the small concerns that come up between meetings.
10. Do you provide any postpartum support?
A doula should offer at least one visit after your birth as part of services. This is a time for you to ask questions, review your memory of what happened during your birth, process your feelings, and get advice about recovery and newborn care.
How do I feel about this birth doula?
Finally, at the end of an interview with a doula, you should ask yourself how you feel about her. Was she easy to talk to? Did she seem nice? Did she try to make you feel comfortable? Most importantly, do you feel like she listened to you want wanted to hear what you had to say?
Something missing from this list? What question would you add to your doula interview that you don’t see here? Share in the comments below!
Shama Doula Services offers full-spectrum support from conception to birth and the postpartum period. Interested in learning more or scheduling a free consultation with doula Beth? Click the button to request more information and get started.