I absolutely love the interview! I love having that initial moment of knowing this is a couple that I know I will be able to help achieve their dream birth. But how do we get to that moment of knowing we are a good fit for each other? Because if I am honest, I am not the right doula for every mother, and that is ok! We figure this out by asking a lot of questions.
One of the largest problems I see potential clients face when they come to an interview is that they have no idea what to ask, or are embarrassed to ask certain questions. Allow me to assure you that the more you know about the doula you are interviewing, the better you can make your decision on who to choose to join you in your intimate space of childbirth!
This is by all means not an exhaustive list of questions, and I would really love if you would add any of your suggestions for additional questions in the comment section. Also, there will be a lot of these questions that will not be important for you to get an answer to. Customize it to you and what you most want to know from your doula.
Write down the questions that are most important to you then take them with you on your interviews. (Another tip, interview a few doulas. You will likely find things you connect with each one of them, but there will be one that will stand out above the others.)
While you are interviewing, pay attention to a few certain things. Did you feel as if she was listening to you? Is she compassionate? Did she ask you questions too? Did you feel she was interested in you and your birth desires? Did she communicate well and on your level of understanding? Does she seem knowledgeable?
Here are 25 questions to get you going. Usually a consultation is 30 minutes to an hour, so be picky on which questions are the most important to you to ask.
1~What is your passion for being a doula? By asking this, you will get to understand the heart of the doula and why she chose this as a career. Regardless of how long she has been a doula or her certifications, her passion and drive is going to be obvious to how she will be a support for you.
2~What is your training and are you certified? If you are certified, what were the requirements for certification? There are several different companies that teach doula trainings and each of them are different. Some of them are in person and some are online. Some do both. Some of the companies concentrate on taking care of the family while others concentrate on the business side of being a doula in their training. Do your research if this is important to you.
3~What do your packages cost and what does the cost include? Do you offer payment plans? And what forms of payments do you accept? The answer to this question will vary by doula. Some require full payment up front, some require a 50% retainer fee and others is less than that. Also ask about the retainer fee being refundable and what are the conditions for that.
4~Do you have a backup doula? There are not many times when a doula would miss a birth, but incase it were to happen, she needs a backup and one that you are already familiar with. What would be the process in you knowing who that backup is?
5~How many births have you attended? This may be an important question for you or it may not be. In all honesty, doulas straight out of training are sometimes just as good as your most seasoned doula. They are excited and ready to help no matter what. Their knowledge is fresh and they are ready to put what they have learned to use. This may or may not be something that you care about.
6~Do you have a preference on where you attend births? Some doulas prefer only home or birth center births, while others prefer hospital births. You want somebody that will be comfortable in your birthing environment.
7~How do you include my other birth team members? It is so important for your doula to be a part of the team, not to take over the coaching for anyone. You want to ask her how she plans to incorporate your spouse, partner, mother, or anyone else that you plan to have attend your birth with you. After all, you want to make a great team...together! (Here is a good article for how dad and doulas make a great team: https://www.dona.org/dads-doulas-myths-resources/)
8~What do you cover in prenatal meetings? This really isn't important to most, but some mothers really want to know what a prenatal meeting will include. This will also give you a chance to see if your doula has a plan for how she covers her meetings or does she just wing it depending on the client. If you are more organized, you may appreciate the doula that can give you a direct answer on this question.
9~How do you most often support women in labor? This may sound like a silly question but some doulas provide emotional support easily and struggle with physical support, and vice-versa. Others yet don't offer support unless the partner will be fully supportive as well. This is also a question of personality. Do they find themselves a cheerleader in labor, or a quiet encourager. Maybe they are humorous and like to help you laugh your baby out. Do they support your religious preferences and will join you in that? All great things to want to know!
10~When will you join me once I am in labor and will you come to my home to labor with me there if that is what I choose? This is important if you want to labor at home as long as you can before heading into the hospital. But it is also great to know what their scene looks like for getting to you once labor begins.
11~How do you participate in an induction? Let's face it, not many of us want an induction. But when we have one, we do want our doula to be supportive and present. So find out what she does in the case of an induction.
12~Do you provide continuous labor and birth support or do you have a time restraint on your services? This is another question that a lot of people don't think to ask and then find out when you are signing an agreement. This may not matter to you, especially if you really connect with a doula because let's be honest, you cannot put a price on your birth support! But for most of us, it is something that we need to know.
13~What is your experience with lactation? Most doulas have some training in lactation, but only some have extensive training or certifications.
14~What does your on call time frame look like? Each doula goes "on call" at a different time and it means different things for each doula. So find out what she will do when she goes on call.
15~Do you offer additional services? Most doulas are not just doulas. They offer childbirth education, placenta encapsulation, postpartum services, and much much more.
16~How many clients do you take on each month? If your potential doula tells you she runs a solo business and takes on 8 clients a month, you may want to understand that it is possible she may not make it to your birth or she may not be as alert and energetic at your birth because she just got finished with another clients birth. This is another reason to ask question #4!
17~Is being a doula your only job or do you work elsewhere too? This is good to know, simply because it may cause a delay in them getting to you once labor begins if they are at work. Being a doula means unreliable income, so a lot of doulas have to supplement their income somehow. If the doula does have another job, you may want to ask how easy it is to get in touch with her while she is working and how much delay it will cause her getting to you.
18~Are you more medically minded or naturally minded? Generally speaking, a doula has a more natural mind set. But maybe you want support for a more medically approached birth. You want a doula that is non-judgmental for that too!
19~Do you sleep during a long labor? A doula is human just like you and needs refreshing, so ask what her plan is to stay on top of her rest.
20~What kind of continuous education are you taking? We all want a doula that stays on top of new research and can provide the best education to you. What is she doing to make sure that she is doing that!
21~How long do you stay after the baby is born? Some doulas will leave rather quickly after birth, while most doulas will stay for at least an hour. Other doulas will stay even longer, up until you're almost ready to move to postpartum. If you're lucky, she may even stick around and help you get up for your first trip to the potty, then help you flaunt your beautiful mesh panties or depends underwear ;)
22~Have you ever had any problems working with medical staff? It is important that your doula work as a team with your medical staff too, not jut your personal support team.
23~Will I get a refund if I have a precipitous birth? Most doulas include a clause in their contract that cover this, and it will be different for each.
24~What is your experience with any birth complications? It is always good to know how your doula handles those stressful situations that can come up during childbirth. It is the last thing that you want to have happen to you, but if it does you want to know that your doula can handle herself and the situation with grace.
25~What makes you different from other doulas? This question will likely make the doula pause and make them think. This will be another good way to learn their personality. Will they be cocky in their answer or will it be harder to answer because they really don't compare themselves!
After the interviews are over, now it is time to make your decision. Ask yourself who you felt the most comfortable with. Who did you instantly click with and felt as if you could easily talk to her about anything? And who's views on pregnancy and childbirth aligned the best with yours?
I know you are making a great decision by hiring a doula, and hopefully I have helped you out some by knowing questions to ask to make the decision making process less of a burden.
And I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't say...I hope to answer all these questions for you in an interview. I would love the opportunity to see if I could be YOUR doula!