questions to ask a doula (and yourself) before hiring
You’ve heard all about the wonderful benefits of hiring a doula, such as a decrease in cesarean birth and the use of pain relieving medications and an increase in positive birthing experiences. You have decided that it makes sense for you and your family to hire one! Now what? It’s time to start interviewing doulas who will potentially support you during an extremely exciting and nerve wracking time. This is why hiring a doula who you trust and like is so important.
Some people meet with one doula and feel an instant connection. If they are available around the time of your estimated due date and ask for a fee that is within your budget, review that contract and sign on the dotted line! You’ve got yourself a doula.
But for many expecting families, the path to hiring their doula isn’t so linear and requires multiple interviews to feel confident about making a decision. Be prepared to meet with more than one doula and if you ask these questions, you’ll be well on your way to hiring the doula of your dreams:
1. How would you describe your doula style and what is your birth philosophy?
Are they laid back and quiet? Are they committed to strong advocacy? Do they support the kind of birth you envision for yourself?
2. Why did you become a doula?
What motivated them to join this line of work? What keeps them excited about the work they do?
3.How do you handle high-stress situations?
Does their response sound like something that will leave you feeling supported?
4. What specific things do you do to support pregnant people and families prenatally, throughout labor/delivery and postpartum?
This is a good time to hear about the different supports offered or to ask about any special skills or interests they may bring to the table, such as: hypnobirthing, placenta encapsulation, photography, religious/spiritual/cultural traditions, lactation counseling etc.
5. How would you feel if I wanted to have an epidural, a homebirth, an induction, (insert whatever you could imagine wanting to have?)
Your doula should offer you non-judgemental support and enthusiasm in all of your birthing choices.
6. Do you work with a backup doula?
In an unpredictable profession such as birth work, there can be huge peace of mind for families in knowing that there is someone else available to offer you support in case for any reason your main doula cannot. The interview is a great time to ask more about if and how backup support is coordinated.
7. What is something you learned while attending your last birth (or during your training)?
A popular question to ask during doula interviews is the amount of births attended. While this is one way to gauge experience, another way is to hear some key takeaways that your potential doula has learned either in their training or during their last birth.
8. On a day that you are not working, how would you like to spend your time?
This is a great question to get people talking and to learn more about them.
Oftentimes, the exact questions you ask are less important than the conversations that follow or the connection you may feel. Think of the questions above as prompts to help you get to know your potential doula and to help ensure that they’re a good fit for you to hire.
Questions to ask yourself after you interview a doula:
- Am I excited to see/talk to this person again?
- Do I trust this person to guide me through my birth and postpartum journey?
- Do I feel like I was listened to and that my specific concerns were heard?
If you answered yes to all these follow-up questions, then you may be ready to hire! If you still feel unsure, then it may be time to continue your search or to schedule second interviews with anyone you feel on the fence about.
Hiring a doula is a wonderful decision. You will be walking through the end of your pregnancy and into parenthood with the guidance and support of a trusted professional. Knowing what questions to ask will help you narrow down your options and make a hiring decision you feel confident in and excited about.
Laura Max is a birth and postpartum doula having served clients in both the tri-state metro area and in Michigan. She is a wife and the mother of two, a teenager and a 7 month old. When Laura is not supporting new families (or her own), you can find her out in nature, listening to R&B and enjoying a mug of tea. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.