After you’ve chosen a few doulas and made initial contact, it’s time to get to know each other better. This usually involves an interview to see how well you click and if you feel comfortable with each other.
I remember freezing at our very first doula interview because I wasn’t fully prepared with questions to ask her. Once that interview was over, I had a better idea of what I needed to ask. Between two pregnancies, I’ve interviewed seven doulas and I definitely have a list of questions I need the answer to before making a decision to hire one.
What made you decide to become a doula?
This is my favorite question to ask. Every single one has their own reasons. I’ve interviewed doulas who got into the profession because they wanted to help teen moms, they didn’t feel supported in their own births, or had one at theirs and wanted to make sure all moms had access to one. I’ve also met a few who wanted to become midwives one day.
How many births have you attended?
Our doula with L was a student, but she was amazing. Don’t necessarily discount those who are still training, but if you’re anxious about giving birth it can be a comfort to go with a doula with more experience.
How will you support us during a natural childbirth? What if I have an epidural? C-section?
You might be aiming for a natural birth, but what you want and what actually happens might be completely different. Find out how they support parents through every kind of birth experience.
How long do you stay with us after the baby is born?
Doulas will typically stick around a couple of hours after the birth of your child to help you establish breastfeeding and make sure you’re comfortable.
Have you worked at my hospital or with my doctor/midwife before?
I like asking this so I can gain a little insight into what to expect from the nurses and doctors during the labor process. The doula we’ve hired for this birth has worked at both hospitals I am choosing between. During our interview, she pointed out some similarities and differences between the two so Mr Boots and I can make a more informed decision.
What services do you offer?
Many doulas offer labor services as well as postpartum services. Some also offer placenta encapsulation. I’ve met doulas who offer birth photography and massage therapy as well. Some of these might be included in their package or they can be added on for an additional price.
When are you on call for me?
This varies. The doula I hired for L was supposed to be on call starting at 36 weeks. The one I hired for this baby is on call starting on 38. This typically means they will stick close to home (within an hour) so they can be available when you go into labor.
It also means you’ll be required to check in with them on a regular basis starting at this time — even if it’s to say hi, nothing has happened yet!
What is your fee? How are payments broken up?
Most doulas require a retainer to hold your date and the remaining amount is due a few weeks before your due date. Some doulas are open to bartering and/or offer discounts for military, single, and women opting for adoption.
What is the process for when I go into labor?
Can the doula meet you at your house or will she meet you at the hospital?
How many prenatal and postpartum visits are included in your fee? When do they happen?
Most doulas will offer one prenatal visit and one postpartum follow up. When they like to meet with their clients varies a little.
Do you have a back-up doula?
ALL the doulas we have interviewed promise they’ll be there for the birth because they never leave town.
But these doulas have been moms, military wives, or are doulaing as a side job. It’s naive for everyone to think there is not a chance a doula can’t make it. There is. Shit happens.
Case and point: The one we hired for L was supposed to be on call for us beginning at 36 weeks, but assumed I wouldn’t go into labor that early and scheduled herself to be out of town. Apparently, she was planning to move after my birth and had to go house hunting in another state. She didn’t reach out to let me know about this life change, clearly hoping it would go unnoticed. She wasn’t around when I went into labor and had L at 36w4d.
It worked out. Her back up was awesome. But the moral of the story is don’t assume anything.
Most doulas I’ve met won’t tell us who their back up is at this point but they should have a plan in place. Typically, they will have 1-2 other doulas they’ll call on in the event an emergency happens. And they should tell you about refunds should no doula attend your birth.
Do you take pictures?
I love a doula who can do this, though it isn’t the reason why you should hire one. That’s what birth photographers are for. Our backup doula for L wasn’t a professional, but I treasure the few photos she captured at L’s birth. Our doula for this birth doesn’t do photography but is happy to use our phones to snap photos if she sees a moment while she isn’t helping keep us focused on the task at hand.
Can we read over your contract before we make a decision?
Most doulas we’ve interviewed come prepared with their contract or tell us they’re willing to email it to us before we make a decision. Sometimes there are things that don’t get discussed but are mentioned in the contract. Like, the doula we hired this time charges an hourly fee after she’s with us for 12 hours during labor. This wasn’t brought up in the interview; we realized it as we were reading the contract.
Don’t forget about your partner!
Encourage your husband/partner to ask questions as well. A doula is there for BOTH of you, so it’s important that both of you are comfortable and involved with the decision making.
I’ve actually learned through the interview processes that Mr Boots remembers the births of our boys a little differently than I do and his concerns varied from mine as well.
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