Questions To Ask A Postpartum Doula (and yourself) Before Hiring
You’ve heard all about the wonderful benefits of hiring a postpartum doula, such as a decrease in postpartum depression and anxiety and increasing the likelihood of successful lactation or infant feeding. You have decided that it makes sense for you and your family to hire one! Now what? It’s time to start interviewing postpartum doulas who will potentially support you during an extremely transformational, emotional, and complex time. This is why hiring a postpartum doula who you trust and like is so important.
Some people meet with one postpartum 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:
- Why did you become a postpartum doula?
- What motivated them to join this line of work? What keeps them excited about the work they do?
- How would you describe your doula style and what is your philosophy?
- Are they more the take charge type or are they more likely to make suggestions and follow your lead? What is their personality like? Do they support the kind of parenting style you envision?
- How do you handle new parents who are feeling a mix of emotions or struggling with some aspect of early parenting?
- Does their response sound like something that will leave you feeling supported?
- What specific things do you do to support families during postpartum?
- This is a good time to learn about the actual activities they will engage in with you from holding the baby, to feeding you, to teaching you newborn care, to helping you heal. It’s a great time to learn about any special skills or interests they may bring to the table, such as: cooking, placenta encapsulation, lactation support, bottlefeeding and pumping support, religious/spiritual/cultural traditions, helpful ideas about how to heal after childbirth, belly binding, etc.
- How would you feel if I wanted to feed my baby formula, bodyfeed, pump, sleep in bed with my baby, sleep with the baby in another room, (insert whatever you could imagine wanting to have?)
- Your doula should offer you non-judgemental support and enthusiasm in all of your postpartum choices. And if they don’t, it is not a good fit.
- Do you work with a backup doula?
- In an unpredictable profession such as birth and postpartum work, there can be huge peace of mind for families in knowing that there is someone else available to offer you support in case your doula is sick or has an emergency. The interview is a great time to ask more about if and how backup support is coordinated.
- Do you ever do overnights if I need a little extra support? Or do you ever do daytime work (If you hired for overnight only)?
- What is your most common type of booking? How many hours do you suggest during the day and for how many weeks? Or how many overnights is best when you’re starting out?
- This is a good way to gauge what’s common and to get a little clarity on what type of support might be good for you.
- What is something you learned while attending your last postpartum family (or during your training)?
- A popular question to ask during doula interviews is the amount of families they have worked with. 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 postpartum job. If the doula is newer, they may have had a lot of newborn and baby childcare experience, even if they were not formally a postpartum doula yet!
- What are your COVID-safety protocols and policies. What happens if you test positive? What happens if we test positive?
- It is important to be prepared for this scenario and many doulas will provide virtual support at this time or will extend the amount of time they can work with you for their contract.
- 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 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 are still considering.
Hiring a doula is a wonderful decision. You will be walking 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.