Interviewing a doula can be stressful. I’ve put together this guide of the most useful questions to ask your potential doula.
Hopefully, this guide will ease that stress a bit. It should also help you and your partner to systematically select the doula that will be the best fit for you!
#1: Do you Mesh?
The first question isn’t really a question. But it is the most important aspect of interviewing a doula. Find out if you and your partner are a good fit with the doula. It is so important that your personalities fit. She will become very close to you at a very intimate time in your life. So regardless of whether she has great credentials, what the price is or whether she has attended multiple births for many years if you don’t mesh, this whole thing isn’t going to work! You want the least amount of stress during this time and having someone that you are comfortable with is key.
#2: How Will You Involve my Partner?
A doula is a great way to have support during your birth. But having one doesn’t mean your partner should be excluded. A good doula involves your partner (husband, wife, significant other, etc.) during your pregnancy and birth. A lot of partners are timid and unsure during birthing and postpartum and doulas can play a major role in educating both you and your partner. They can teach partners about massage, different positions and ways to cope with pain during labour. They can also teach you and your partner about things to anticipate during your pregnancy and labour as well as postpartum. A doula who involves your partner will help make the whole process much more smooth than one who doesn’t.
#3: What Services Do You Offer?
This is the next very important question you should ask your potential doula. The services they provide vary greatly. Some offer multiple pregnancy and postpartum appointments, others less so. Some offer to be with you your entire labour, others come once you are in the hospital or when you’re dilated a certain amount. Make sure you ask exactly what services your doula will provide so there are no surprises. Some will offer 24/7 phone calls or texts, while others are not so liberal with their time. Make sure you know all of this before making your choice.
#4: How Much Will it Cost
The price for a doula varies according to your location. You could see a huge difference in price depending on if you are in a big city or in a more rural area (doulas in cities tend to be more expensive). Some offer a sliding scale for clients with lower incomes, but this is not always the case, so ask! Money can be a sensitive subject, but it might be a good idea to ask the price early on in the interview so that if you are thinking of hiring a particular doula, it won’t come as a surprise. Doulas often post prices on their websites or Facebook pages, and sometimes they offer different packages with varying amounts of pre and postnatal visits. There are lots of different things to think about!
Bottom line is that once you find a doula you love, your money will be well spent because there is nothing like having the amazing support of a good doula during your labour, delivery and postpartum.
#5: What Sets You Apart From Other Doulas?
What does she bring to the table that is different than all the other doulas out there? For example, does she do massage? Aromatherapy? Acupressure or acupuncture? A lot of doulas have supplementary training that can benefit you during your labour, so it is important to note what those special skills are so you can choose the best doula out there!
#6: What Kind of Experience do You Have?
Before you hire a doula, it’s important to know what her previous experience is. How long has she been a doula? How many births has she been to? Does she have any testimonials or reviews from other clients? The more experience is usually better, but don’t forget, everyone has to start from somewhere. If you find a doula you really mesh and click with, don’t let lack of experience deter you. Remember, the benefits of having a support person at the birth that you know and trust is more valuable than having someone you’re not crazy about but with tons of experience. Doulas make labour easier and shorter (proven by research!), and it’s important to have someone you trust fully. To find out her previous experience, ask her about difficult births she’s been at, find out her perspective. Make sure she has experience, but don’t let that be the final deciding factor when hiring. Also, novice doulas often work for a lower price, or even for free when trying to gain experience, which might be a plus for you if money is an issue.
#7: What is Your Birth Philosophy?
As a labour and delivery nurse I’ve worked with a lot of different personalities, that all view pregnancy, labour and delivery a little bit differently. Personally, I find the best doulas to be ones that support their client no matter what. The ones that try to defy their decisions while in the labour are the ones that are working against their client and not with them. For example, if you’re planning on trying to avoid getting an epidural, that’s great, but just realize that doulas that are vehemently against medical pain management in labour might not be your best bet. They tend to want to sway your decisions towards their philosophies, and that really doesn’t benefit anyone! Find out her ideas on childbirth and see if they align with yours. It’s extremely important that you and your doula are on the same page in this regard.
#8: Do You Work With a Back-Up Doula?
This question is an important one. You need to know that there will be a doula available for you at all times. Doulas have unpredictable schedules. They may not have a client due at the same time as you, but could still be unavailable when you need her. Find out if she has a back-up, how to contact her and set up a meeting with her as well. Also, whether she has any vacation planned or time off. A lot of doulas work in teams of two, but some also work in collectives where there will be more than one backup doula available if needed.
#9: Are You Available Around My Due Date
This one is a given. Doulas can only take on a certain amount of clients each month so that they don’t get overbooked and miss a birth. It might be smart to start with this one so you don’t get disappointed when she’s not available.
#10: Have You Worked at the Facility I’m Delivering at?
It can be nice if the doula you choose is familiar with the hospital and staff there (if you’re not delivering at home). Having a working relationship with some of the nurses or doctors can benefit you because she might have an easier time advocating your wishes. Also, not all nurses and doctors are fond of doulas, unfortunately, so knowing the facility can really be an asset to you.
That’s it! The most important questions to ask in your doula interviews. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any stories about how you found your doula that might benefit others. I’d really like to start sharing experiences on the blog, it would be such a great resource for all the pregnant gals out there!