Hiring a doula can be a wonderful way to ensuring you have the support and guidance you need to prepare for your labor and birth. They can be amazing advocates during your labor to help you achieve a positive birth experience. However, if you’ve never worked with or hired a doula before, it can be intimidating. These tips on how to approach hiring a doula can give you great insight to find the right doula for you. So buckle up and get ready to figure out what questions you need to ask a potential doula.
- What are important qualities in a doula?
- Questions to ask when interviewing a potential doula?
- What personal considerations are important to make your choice?
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How Should You Prepare to Hire a Doula
You should do your homework before you sit down and go through these questions to ask a doula. This will save you from wasting your time. Understand first what your priorities are around your labor and birth. Secondly, determine what matters to you when it comes to the type of doula you are looking for.
First: Think about the birth you would like. Do you want to give birth in a hospital, birth center, or have a home birth? Do you want a natural birth or are you open to using medications? Think about what medication options you are open to. How involved do you want your partner to be in your birth? What education and preparations do you plan to make for your birth?
These aren’t all the things you should consider, but will hopefully get you started thinking about what really matters to you. Understanding your goals will help you find a doula that you feel comfortable with and can support your goals.
Second: What are deal breakers for you when it comes to choosing a doula? What is your budget for a doula? What services are important to you such as: pregnancy/birth education, birth support, postpartum support, unlimited access via email or text, placental encapsulation, etc.? What education and certification level do they need to have?
Again, this is not an extensive list of things you need to consider, but ideas to get you thinking about what really matters to you when choosing a doula.
Once you know what your priorities are when it comes to your birth and who you want to support you do some online research. Come up with a list of a few different providers that meet the criteria you have already determined. Make sure their price is something you can afford, they meet your services needs, and can provide you with the kind of support you need before setting up an interview.
Make an appointment via zoom or in person to speak with your potential doula. I believe it is important to see and hear them as it will help you get an overall feel for if they are a good fit for you. Birth is a very personal experience, and you will be placing a lot of trust into this individual.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Doula
When you sit down for your interview make this a conversation, don’t make it an interrogation. Yes you are hiring them, but in order for your labor to go smoothly you need to communicate as a team. They need to understand who you are and what you hope for in your birth in order to tailor their expertise to your needs. So let’s get into it!
1. Are you available for my due date?
This is a quick one to ask right off the bat. If they aren’t available for your due date you really don’t need to ask any more questions, other than can you recommend any other doula’s you work with? You can’t change your due date, so unfortunately this is a deal breaker right out the gate.
2. How many other clients do you have booked around my due date?
If having your doula present at your birth is a priority then this is a great question to ask. If they have too many other births scheduled around the time that you are due, it will make it difficult to be present for your birth. This may mean that their backup will have to fill in. There is no right number here, but it’s something to consider when making your choice.
3. Can you tell me about your back up doula or doulas?
It is impossible for one person to be in two places at the same time. Since doula’s work with women having babies their schedules are naturally unpredictable. There is a chance that even if they booked someone on a different month than you, you could still end up having your babies at the same time. Good doulas will always have a back up plan in place.
Talk with them about what their backup plan is. Who do they work with to step in and help in the event that two clients are laboring at the same time? How did they choose them? What can I expect to happen?
4. Why did you choose to become a doula? What education and certifications do you have?
This helps you better understand the professional you are hiring. Often they will tell you about their background. They may have come from a medical perspective like a nurse or midwife. Others have come from an unrelated field, but have a real passion to support birthing women.
Ask about their previous education, certifications, and continuing development to see if they are someone you can count on no matter what happens in your birth. There is no right answers here, but their story can help you determine if they can be the right person for you.
5. What is your birth philosophy or how would you describe your style?
This gives you a sense of what you can expect from them, and if their style aligns with your vision for your birth. Again make this a fluid conversation and ask clarifying questions as needed.
6. What does your pricing include? Do you offer additional services?
You want to know what you are paying for up front, so you don’t end up disappointed. For example: if you are expecting a postpartum visit after you get home from the hospital and you find out it is an additional fee that could lead to some disappointment. Make sure pricing is clear and you feel comfortable with the cost and services.
7. Can you explain the logistics of your services?
This is important, especially if you have never hired a doula previously. Again you want to make sure you understand what you are paying for. How many times will you meet prior to the birth? When is their 24/7 call and how does it work? Where do you attend births? When and how do you communicate with them during your pregnancy? Do they support you postpartum as well?
8. Will you meet with me after my birth to review the labor and answer questions?
This can be important for many women regardless of whether you had a positive or negative birth experience. Sometimes things happen quickly as birth is so unpredictable. Having someone who is unbiased who was present can help you unpack your birth experience good and bad. It can be a great way to heal postpartum.
9. What is your approach when working with care providers?
Ask about specific experiences working with providers that were easy to work with, and also those that were going against their birth client’s wishes.
10. What does advocacy look like to you? How do you help navigate informed consent?
Doulas play an important role during birth and one of those roles is to be your advocate. It can be hard to be mentally present during labor at all times, so a doula’s role is at times to be your advocate. They can help ensure you understand informed consent and support you and your partner in making informed medical decisions.
You will want someone who consults with you and helps you process the information. You don’t want someone who will speak for you and take your voice away from you.
11. Have you attended births at my birth location before? Have you worked with my doctor or midwife before?
These questions can be very enlightening. They come from a birth support role and not a medical role so they can provide you with some interesting insights. That information may lead you to choose another doula, birth location, or doctor. It may also help to solidify that you are building the right team and location for your birth.
12. When will you join me in labor? How long will you be there?
It is important to understand when and for how long they can support you in your labor. Do you call them at the first sign of contraction or do you wait until you arrive at the hospital? Each doula may be different. Have this discussion prior to making your choice.
13. Can you provide some references from former clients?
This will tell you a lot about the person you may hire. Ask them to provide references and reach out to their former clients.
What to Consider After Your Interviews?
Now that you have met with all the doulas and gone through all the questions to ask a doula in your interviews, it’s time to consider a few things:
- Do I feel comfortable with them?
- Did they have the experience and philosophy that meet my priorities?
- Could I spend 24+ hours with them? (labor can be long)
- Do they understand my goals?
- Will they be able to work well with your care team?
- Do I like their communication style?
- Do they make me feel safe and heard?
- What is my gut telling me?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then I think you found your doula!
Finding the right doula can be as important as choosing a name for your new baby. During the interview process don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. But don’t take yourself too seriously. Ask some fun questions like, “what’s your go-to snack during a long labor” or “if you could have any superpower during a birth, what would it be?” It’s a lighthearted way to let their personality shine through.
After all, you want someone who can support you, but also be your partner in crime during this exciting journey. So, take your time, interview several doulas, and choose the one that makes you feel the most comfortable. Because let’s be real, you’ll need all the comfort you can get during labor and delivery. Good luck in your search, mama!
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.