So, you want to hire a doula. You’re going to have a baby and you’ve heard that having a doula reduces C-section rates and your friend said she couldn’t “have done it without” her doula and hey, it sounds great to have an additional support person there to rub your back, bring you juice and smile even when you’ve just pooped yourself. But how do you figure out which doula is the right doula for you?
After all, this is a person who will be there when you are (hopefully) pushing a baby out of your vagina. You definitely want to feel good about the person you’ve selected to support you during that momentous event! So, this doula (that’s me, by the way) has written a list of ten questions you, the pregnant person, should ask during a doula interview.
My suggestions on what to ask focus more on finding out more about your doula’s personality and philosophy rather than on how they run their business, although I have thrown in a few more practical ones, as well. There are many sites that provide a list of questions that are more along the lines of “What is your doula training/What is your fee/How many births have you done” if you’re interested, but I tend to think that if you’re already at the interview stage, you will have perused the doula’s website or at least had a phone call/email in which you find out stuff like how much they charge and if they’re experienced or not. So, as a doula myself, here’s what I’d ask if I were hiring a doula:
1. Why did you decide to become a doula? I love love love love LOVE it when potential clients ask me this. It lets me explain how and why I felt drawn to birth work. There are so many ways that people find their way to becoming a doula, from having an amazing birth themselves to having a less-than-amazing birth themselves to just having a fascination with giving birth, so I think it can be a powerful insight into someone’s motivations and passions.
2. Do you have a backup? How does your backup relationship work? This is KEY, you guys. Birth is unpredictable and your doula needs to have a backup doula, needs to have more than one backup, if possible. Getting details on what will happen if your doula can’t attend your birth and how they will let their backup know about you and your birth is really important because there’s always a chance that they will not be available.
3. What happens in the event of something unexpected? What if my labor is really really really long, you have a personal emergency, or I start to give birth in the car on the way to the hospital? Again, birth is unpredictable! Does the doula’s scope of practice allow her to assist if you were give birth without a care provider present? What happens if you’re in labor for three days and she just can’t keep her eyes open anymore? What happens if she breaks her leg the day before your water breaks? Having a general idea of what the procedure might be if things don’t go as planned is always helpful.
4. Do you have experience at my place of birth? With my care provider? I do a lot of births at one hospital in my area, so I feel comfortable there and even know a few of the doctors and nurses. For some people, this makes them more confident in hiring me. For others, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, I think it can be good to find out if your doula has experience both at your place of birth and with your particular doctor or midwife.