Last night my friend asked me for pointers on interviewing a doula. She doesn’t live in NJ anymore and I didn’t have an associate to recommend in her area. She had set up some interviews with local gals and was getting excited to start the process. She found a standard list of questions online but wanted my ideas as an “insider”. I thought about it for a few seconds and replied, “scrap the list”. Here are 5 better questions.
Better Questions to Ask a Potential Doula.
In your initial conversation you should cover the following:
Are you available for my EDD? Do you cover my delivery location? What is your fee? What does that include? Do you come to my home when I’m in labor or do we meet at the delivery location? If these are answered satisfactorily, then schedule an interview.
Which brings us to the list!
Scrap: Are you Certified? There are so many ways to certify and so many certifying organizations with differing criteria, this is becoming irrelevant (cue the negative doula comments below). Some doula trainings are in-person, some are online. Some doula trainings are 1 day, some are 4 days. Some require 3 births, some require 5, some require none!
The Better Question Is: How did you train to become a doula? How did it prepare you for this work? Think in advance about what answers will make you feel confident in her skills. My birth doula had never attended a birth. Except her own. She had given birth 3 times and was a massage therapist. This met my criteria.
Scrap: How many births have you attended? I have mentored doulas over the years and now have a great group of women working for me. Everyone of us had our first birth client. I have worked with doulas who have arrived at their first birth and ROCKED IT! I have worked with doulas who have attended 25-50 births and when they arrived it seemed like they had never seen a woman in labor before.
The Better Question Is: Can you give me examples of how you would support me if these scenarios happened? List your own scenarios, because those are the scenarios you will manifest. Yes, it’s true. Didn’t you read The Secret? (and a BIG you’re welcome! to The Secret on amazon)
Scrap: How many clients do you take each month? Do you have back-up? Every doula will answer with a number and ideally a “yes” to the back-up. Who cares? I have had clients with due dates 4 weeks apart give birth within 24 hours of each other!
The Better Question Is: If I am in labor at the same time as another client, who is my secondary doula? Will she know she is on call? This one is critical! I am the doula who got a call from a client in labor, who wasn’t my client. The couple told me I was their back-up doula. I had no idea I was their back-up doula. Fortunately, I had declined an invite for drinks with my hubs and his BFF, just 2 hours prior. (I wanted to watch ER). Many doulas have informal agreements to back each other up. Make sure yours has a formal one.
Scrap: What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor? Who cares what her philosophy is? If she is a good interviewee, she already has a set answer for this. You are hiring her to provide a service. A VERY PERSONAL SERVICE.
The Better Question Is: Can you tell me about a time that a client made a decision you didn’t agree with? Gauge her response carefully. Is she able to separate her own feelings? Does she sound judgmental or disappointed? She shouldn’t. This is your birth and her primary role is to provide emotional, physical and educational support. If you are making an informed decision she is being paid to support it.
Scrap: Do you get along with my caregiver? Have you worked at my delivery location? This should have been asked in your initial interaction. The doula should always ask where and who in the initial phone call. If it is a provider or hospital they have chosen to stop working with, they should be up front about it.
The Better Question Is: I am with MW/OB “X” and delivering at “Z” Hospital. Do you have any positive or negative experiences you can share? Doulas love to share. A LOT. Gauge her response and decide if it is cause for concern about your provider or cause for concern about her. Is she offering evidence-based information? If you are with a notoriously bad hospital or provider, she should be able to provide evidence. You should then do the research and come to an informed decision.
After she leaves check how you feel. Are you both excited? Do you both feel empowered? Do you both feel ready to share the most personal experience of your lives with her? Remember, the most important thing about your doula is how she is going to make you feel and provide support for you and your partner.
I have had an amazing response to this blog! Thank you all for your compliments. I have also received requests to reprint. If you would like a pdf to include with your promotional materials, you can purchase the pdf with permission through this link. http://mkt.com/wise-birth-choices-llc/scrap-the-list-pdf-with-permission
23 thoughts on “5 Better Questions To Ask A Potential Doula: Scrap The List!”
- Jennifer Rivera on March 11, 2015 at 1:05 am said:
Great job! This is by far the best one of these lists I’ve seen to date!
- Elizabeth Luke on March 11, 2015 at 1:38 am said:
Great blog! Finally, someone who gets it!
- Kimberly on March 11, 2015 at 4:20 am said:
This is a great list for clients! I will be sharing and I *hope* that anyone considering a doula for their birth/postpartum period will read it! Pure perfection!
- Melissa on March 11, 2015 at 4:43 am said:
excellent list! These are all really great questions that promote meaningful dialogue between a prospective doila and hiring couple/individual.
- DoulaLouise on March 11, 2015 at 5:12 am said:
Great list of questions! I especially like thinking about different scenarios and how they would be handled and how you’d like to be supported. (Plus, I know the author of The Secret, so yea for the bump!!!)
- tracy hartley on March 12, 2015 at 12:19 am said:
Best list ever. I hope you will keep this online forever so we can link to it! I’ve been a doula for 18+ years and I couldn’t have come up with a better list of questions. Great job!
- San Antonio Doula on March 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm said:
Thank you for this! The other “how to hire a doula” lists are so out dated and don’t actually tell the client much of anything valuable. I will be passing this on!
- Rachel on March 13, 2015 at 8:45 pm said:
How dare you say doula certification isn’t important?!?! Okay, just kidding. But I thought you needed at least one response. As a doula who started certification in a very in-depth correspondence program but chose not to complete it after a year of apprenticeship with a midwife and getting way more experience and education then any certification program could offer, I appreciate the respect. Sure, I could have jumped through the rest of the hoops and finished but I decided those letters at the end of my name weren’t worth it to me. I appreciate that my clients are happy with me and my level of experience despite not certifying. And given the number of new doulas who come to me for help before and during births I think I’m doing okay 😉
- Lea Garner on March 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm said:
Awesome blog post! I’d love to repost on my own website and share on FB!
- Barrie Glasscock on March 23, 2015 at 9:27 pm said:
Yes! Great list!!
- Angela on March 24, 2015 at 1:28 am said:
This is a fantastic list! I will definitely share it with others. Happy Doula Week!
- Christine on April 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm said:
Thank you for this list. I was trying to decide between 2 doulas and the one I selected met the criteria on this list, among many other great attributes. I feel even better now about my selection. I can’t wait to start working with her!