So, you’re thinking of hiring a doula? Great choice! The good news is: with doula services becoming more popular, you will have plenty of professionals to choose from. The “not so good” news is: the growing number of doulas doesn’t make the hiring process any easier. In fact, the sudden popularity of doula services and people seeking certifications should make you extremely cautious of prospects, their intentions, and the value they intend to add to your birthing experience. How can you make sure you are giving the job and your trust to the right person? When it was time for me to start the process of hiring a doula I put my psychology hat on and mustered up all I learned about asking and answering the right questions. I have created the list of questions that helped me choose the perfect doula to enhance my pregnancy and birthing experience!
#1. What inspired you to enter this field of work?
This question isn’t just about finding out more about their choice in profession. It is also about finding out their passion and their “why”. You can tell a lot about a person when they are talking about themselves. Giving your potential doula the chance to openly talk about themselves may help you see a how genuine they are, or aren’t. If a person does not seem passionate about the job they are applying for, skip them and go on to the next. Your life and the life of your precious baby is far too important to choose otherwise. It can help to make a list of your values beforehand and see how well of a match they are.
#2. What certifications do you hold?
Having a doula certification is a requirement from anyone seeking work as a doula. But, it never hurts to have the support of someone with extra certifications. Multiple certifications can show how well rounded the person is, how committed they are to the field and how eager they are to learn. There are doulas that are also certified life coaches, or maybe even certified in child CPR (a plus if you have other children). Again, it doesn’t have to be a requirement that your doula have other certifications outside of doula work, however, it gives you a look into the kind of person they are, their work ethic, their story, and possibly even their level of care.
#3. How long have you been a doula and how many births have you attended unassisted?
If you feel comfortable with a newbie (because hey, we all have to start somewhere) that’s perfectly fine. Doulas are required to attend a number of births while in training. Compare the number of births they attended outside of their training to those they were required to complete. I say this because it can show how dedicated they are to their work. Yes, some people chose this profession as a side hustle, only take special cases, may purposefully work a limited amount of cases or are just badass renaissance women doing it all. So, not everyone will have a gazillion hours of experience. You have to make sure their level of commitment and expertise matches your specific wants and needs. Do you want someone new that you can grow with during your experience or do you want to be hands off enough to let them take the wheel?
#4. What type of births have you attended (home birth, hospital, birth center)?
In order for you to feel confident in the person you choose, they need to be familiar with the environment in which you will be giving birth. Hospitals can be a bit hectic, it can help if that person knows their way around the madness. If you are going with a home birth, you want someone who is comfortable in someone else’s intimate setting. A birthing center is a combination of the two, but it will be a big help if someone knows a little about the way they operate as well. Regardless of where you plan to give birth, if something goes wrong or if there is an emergency, you will most likely be giving birth wherever you and your baby will be safe. You want hire a doula who knows what to do when it all goes down, not someone who is just calmer than you.
#5. If you are unavailable when I go into labor, do you have backups?
You want to know what the plan will be if your doula is unavailable while you are in labor. If she works with a team, you should physically meet each member so you are familiar with who will potentially take part in your birthing experience. While it may sound excessive, ask them the same questions as your prospective doula. You want to feel the energy of that person and make sure you resonate with them because well, your life and your child’s life depends on it.
#6. What is your philosophy on childbirth?
This question may seem like the same as the last question, but it is not. Asking this will allow you to pick through the fluff and possibly feel if this person is genuine enough to add value to your birth experience. Many people looking to get hired will tell you what you want to hear or what they think you want to hear. Again, don’t share your thoughts before you ask this question, don’t leave room for mirroring or projection. You want to see if this person is worthy of your money, your time, and a permanent spot in your birthing experience.
#7. What techniques will you use to help me move through labor?
Before asking this question, become familiar with the many holistic and medicated methods used to ease labor pain. Decide which methods you would prefer or wouldn’t mind trying. Knowing this information beforehand will allow for a better conversation. This question will help you see how educated your potential doula is on the subject, and how much you can learn or benefit from their information and experience.
Before giving birth, I focused heavily on spinning babies techniques and peanut ball positions, only to hate them while in labor. My doula suggested I sit in the shower with my back facing the water instead. It was a game changer! What you want to look for is someone who you can trust and who has the knowledge and ability to try whatever methods work best for you at the time. Hiring a doula who knows a plethora of techniques can ease your mind and give you one less thing to stress about during your pregnancy.
#8. How long will you stay with me after labor?
Without the fear of seeming extra or “too much”, make sure your potential doula breaks down exactly how she does things after labor. I would even go as far as to request it all be written down in the agreement/contract so there is no room for confusion or misunderstandings by any party. Think of it like this: this is a very important time, and I am paying for a service. How long is your doula is expecting to stay, what does the doula do immediately after baby is earth-side? Does this resonate with the level of care you require? Hiring a doula and knowing all of these things will help you eliminate any potential stressors and/or uncertainty.
#9. What happens if I need a C-section?
This question is important when hiring a doula. The birthing process is unpredictable. No matter how much you prepare for one outcome, anything can happen. It is literally one of those things where control is out of everyone’s hands. You want to know if the doula is familiar with various c-section scenerios, how she has reacted in the past and what the overall plan will be if this were your reality. While plans can change, it will give you a piece of mind that someone will know how to respond to such emergencies, especially if that someone is dedicated to supporting your body and your well-being.
#10. Do you provide postpartum services and have experience helping nursing mothers?
Your postpartum care is just as important as your prenatal care and not all doulas provide postpartum care. Asking about their experience regarding postpartum care will let you know what you can expect. If postpartum care is something you’d like or are considering, it could be beneficial hiring a doula who already provides those services. As mentioned above, you want to know what your postpartum care consists of and if it matches the level of care you’d like.
If you are a mama who wants to nurse her little one, the golden hour (the skin to skin contact with baby immediately after birth), is very important, as well as establishing your baby’s latch. Depending on where you decide to give birth, you may have plenty of help with latching and breastfeeding; however, those first hours, days, and weeks home with baby can become unpredictable and difficult. It is very important to express your wants and needs when it comes to your postpartum care and if your prospective doula is capable and willing to respect it.
#11. What’s your fee and refund policy? What does it cover?
Make sure your doula is professional enough to bind your agreements in a contract. Having a contract is a common practice when seeking a doula through an agency or corporation. There are doulas out there who work independently and have their own way of doing things. Ask about potential add-ons and services that are limited and cost more after being given/used more than a set number of times, (massages, products, etc.).
You want to make sure you know the process if you aren’t happy with your care at different stages of your journey and decide to switch or discontinue services. I am not saying doulas are out here trying to scam you. I am saying that communication and understanding is everything. You may find out that the doula has a contract that only covers the basics, where somethings are left for interpretation and are not clear enough for your comfortability. This is the time to figure all of that out.
When it comes to assembling your birthing team and hiring a doula, it is all about putting your trust in others and being 100% confident with that choice. Having a baby comes with an array of emotions. Avoid the feelings of regret, discontentment, and stress by choosing the right doula who can benefit you and your experience. I hope these questions prove useful to you and leads to you finding the perfect doula.
Value yourself, your money and your experience!