If you’re considering hiring a doula for your birth, it’s important to interview a few potential doulas to get to know them personally. Maybe you’ve emailed a few doulas you like and set up meetings with some of them. Are you nervous about not knowing the right things to ask? During your interview, here are some questions that help you see if they’d be the right fit for you and your growing family.
Important Things to Discuss With Your Doula
How many births have you attended? It is important to have an idea of how much experience the doula has supporting people in labor. Typically for certification, they will have attended a minimum of three births. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Typically newer doulas are more affordable as they gain experience, while the more experienced doulas have perhaps attended births for several years (but that experience can cost quite a bit more).
Why did you become a doula? This is such a great “get to know you” question. How did they decide to become a doula? Being a doula is physically hard and emotionally draining with unpredictable work hours and not-great pay. People who have chosen this as a career generally have chosen it from a place of deep love for parents and babies. Hearing about the doula’s passion for supporting people in labor can be really touching and helpful.
What training did you receive? Are you certified? Training and certification are important. Always double-check on DONA1 (or with another certification agency) to make sure the doula has certification in good standing. They also may have additional childbirth training (like with the Bradley method2 , for example), so that’s worth asking about as well.
Do you attend all hospital births? Home births? Are there any birth centers you don’t go to? Make sure the doula will support you where you plan to deliver. Have they ever been a doula in that setting before? It is best to talk about your place of delivery upfront.
What does your pricing include? Look for how many visits their fee includes. Typically doulas offer advance visits (you can use that time to ask questions, work on your birth plan and get to know each other more) and postpartum doula visits (to assist with breastfeeding, answer questions and help you process the birth). The standard is to offer 1-2 prenatal visits and 1-2 postpartum visits in addition to the birth.
Do you meet with me after the birth to review the labor and answer questions? This is related to number five but it’s important enough to add it twice. Processing your birth with someone who was there as an objective observer can be very therapeutic. Meeting after the birth will be a good time to ask questions and talk about how you feel about your birth.
Do you have a backup doula? Can I meet them ahead of time? How did you choose your backup doula? What if you go into labor and your doula is already at another birth? Who will they call to come to be with you? They should have a backup—who you can meet ahead of time—so you can feel comfortable that you’ll be supported.
When will you be on call for my birth? Generally, you’ll want to find someone available at least two weeks before your due date and two weeks after, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Do you have references I can contact or reviews I can read? Ask to speak to some of their past clients. Some websites (like DoulaMatch.net3 ) post public reviews for you to read. In some areas, Yelp may also have doula reviews. As with any job interview, references are an important part of getting hired.
Do you offer any additional services? For example, birth photography or placenta encapsulation? Some doulas are childbirth educators, lactation consultants, yoga instructors, or massage therapists.
How many clients do you have around my due date? It is normal to have up to four clients in any given month. If that makes you nervous, go for a doula who only takes two clients a month. Or maybe you can be their only one! Some of the more experienced doulas might be busier, while the new doulas don’t have as many clients at once.
How would you describe your doula ‘style’? What do you see as your strength? Doulas can be anything you need them to be. Do you need an encouraging, high-energy cheerleader? Would you prefer a quiet, relaxed foot massage or back rub? Maybe you’d like a comedian or a shoulder to cry on? A doula can be anything and everything, but they usually have a natural style and energy. Ask them what they feel makes them a great doula.
Do you feel like they are listening to you? Did they ask you any questions? Are they interested in you and what do you want? This is more of a question to ask yourself. Ideally, a doula should simply be a mirror, reflecting back your desires for your labor and delivery—not their own opinions, biases, or agenda.
And finally (it’s not necessarily a question), but at the end of the interview, do you feel like you clicked with them? This is where a doula interview can feel like a first date. It really comes down to this: could you hang out with this person for 24+ hours? Do you feel comfortable with them? They will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with them is paramount. At the end of the interview, do you feel like you just made a new friend? That’s the feeling you’re looking for.