How To Interview A Doula
One of the first steps in hiring a doula is the interview. Almost every doula will do a free interview so you can meet, find out if you are a good fit, and get to know each other. No matter what this first meeting looks little, interviewing a doula is an integral step.
What does a doula interview look like?
Many doulas will meet you at a central and neutral location, like a coffee shop. Others may prefer a phone interview. This can work well for very busy doulas and clients, or in large cities where travel is time-consuming. Either way, the interview gives you a chance to get to know each other before you commit.
It’s a great idea to include the partner in this process early on. While we often think of the doula as non-medical support for the birthing mother, she is incredibly important to the partner as well. During the actual birth, the doula will likely spend more time communicating with the partner than the mom because women in labor get less and less chatty!
You don’t have to decide at this first meeting if you are going to hire this doula. Maybe you are interviewing multiple doulas or maybe you need some private time to chat with your partner. Give yourself some time to make a decision so you feel sure about this incredibly important support person.
The first doula interview will likely not be longer than an hour, will take place in a neutral location, will give you a chance to find out if you are a good fit, and should include the partner.
What do you ask a doula in an interview?
Before you ask a single question of your doula, consider what it is you want for your birth. Maybe you don’t even know how to answer this. That’s OK! If you are really unsure about the type of birth you want, then we would highly suggest taking a birth class. Actually, we suggest a birth class no matter what because knowledge is so powerful. The information you gain will help you know your options so you can choose what you like.
Hailie Wolfe, a doula trainer in Abilene, TX says that,
“Interviewing a doula is not as much about the expectations of the doula as it is about the individual couple’s expectations for their birth. I recommend couples put their thoughts and feelings about how they’d like their birth to go down on paper. Ask the prospective doula how she would assist you in achieving your specific birth goals.”
Before you even show up for that interview, take this advice.
Jillian Freeland adds, “It is the unspoken expectations that are difficult to navigate.”
If you have already hired your doula then make sure you have a conversation about your birth desires. She wants to serve you but will have a hard time if she is guessing about your goals.
Once you know what you want, you can move on to questions that you have for the doula. Get to know your prospective doula.
- Why did she become a doula?
- What does she believe the role of a doula is? (A doula’s true role is to offer non-medical, emotional support, not to act as an activist or advocate.)
- What does she most love about the work?
- What happens if she can’t make it to your birth?
- Does she work with other doulas?
- What does she charge and when is the payment due? (Many doulas offer payment plans, but payment is typically due before the delivery.)
Add any questions that you feel really matter for you or are specific to your situation, such as if you are single, will have lots of family present, are planning a VBAC, cesarean, home birth, epidural, or anything else that is unique to you.
“I am planning a (insert your desire here) birth. Do you feel comfortable supporting this type of birth?” is the most important question you can ask your doula in your initial interview.
Questions you should ask yourself
Another layer of interviewing a doula is figuring out how you feel. After you have considered what desires you have for your birth and met the perspective doula, consider these things:
- Did I feel any kind of connection with her?
- How did my partner feel about the doula? Are they compatible?
- Is the doula someone I feel comfortable inviting to my home and into my birth space? You’ll be sharing one of life’s most important events with them so feeling safe with this person matters.
- Did she respect my birth wishes and seem capable of honoring whatever choice I make during the labor and birth?
- Do you feel like you can reach out to her for questions you may have throughout pregnancy?
The most important question you need to ask yourself is if you really feel comfortable with this person. Other factors like how popular, busy, successful, even experienced the doula is matter less than your comfort level and connection.
Questions you don’t need to ask…
One of the things that couples often want to know is specifics on HOW a doula will support them. What comfort techniques will they bring? Are they good at a double hip-squeeze?
This, however, isn’t a question you need to ask because a good doula brings a toolbox of skills to EVERY birth. The tool she brings out depends totally on your unique birth and what you need or find comforting.
It is natural to be concerned about how you will cope with labor and want concrete ideas on how your doula will comfort you. But your doula knows that what works depends on each unique woman and birth.
Don’t worry, she’ll help you in the way you need most. Often this is simply being there, listening, or providing a comforting touch.
Another thing that may not matter is the experience your doula has. Everyone has to start somewhere, and newer doulas will have less hands-on experience at birth. However, don’t discount them. Jillian Freeland, a Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer says,
“New doulas are awesome! Why…. well they have this fresh excitement and training. Everything is at the forefront of their minds. They are eager to serve and will probably give you an amazing experience. So don’t toss out the idea of a new doula.”
Every doula has something unique she can bring to the birth. The most important factor is you, your desires, and your connection.
A doula can’t tell you in an interview what kind of support you’ll need during labor nor does her past experience necessarily make her good or bad.
Congratulations on taking the first step to hire a doula! We love doulas so much and when you get a great one, you will too.