I have met with hundreds of families throughout my career as a doula, and no two interviews have been exactly alike. Every family has different priorities for their birth, and they all have different reasons for seeking out a doula. I love helping people make the most of their time and energy, so here are a few ideas I have for making your doula interview a great one.
Before the interview
Before compiling a list of potential doulas to interview, discover WHY you want a doula to support you at your birth. Are you looking for someone to help you stay motivated? Do you want a walking, talking birth dictionary? Do you want a calm, confident presence? Do you want someone who will love on you constantly? Do you want someone to protect you from a bad care provider? Do you want a doula because you have seen the evidence of doulas and want them to increase your odds of achieving a certain birth outcome? Do you want help with finding research, learning communication strategies, and finding the best birth classes? Do you want to hear stories about what other people have done in your similar situation? Do you want someone who listens to you, accompanies you on this journey, validates, and only offers advice or information when asked or do you want someone who freely offers advice and information because you do not have time to do the research yourself? Doulas can provide much of this and more. However, some of what I mentioned is beyond what a doula can or should even do.
Suggested reading: What doulas CAN and CAN’T do for you
It may be helpful to write down exactly what you want a doula to do for you at every step of the way. You may consider asking yourself, “How do I want my doula to help me for the rest of my pregnancy? During the early parts of labor? During the later parts of labor? After the birth?” This may help you know which questions to ask.
It may help save time at the interview to see if you can find many answers on the doula’s website. For example, my various services and prices are clearly included on my website so that is a question people do not need to ask me in the interview (unless they want to).
Another option is to wing it and see where the conversation goes. Maybe you are someone who likes to follow your intuition when making decisions. I knew which midwife I wanted long before I interviewed her. The interview was more of a formality so that my husband could have a chance to meet with her.
During the interview
This is the time to observe how you feel around this person. Did this person have a relaxing, easy-going demeanor or were they energetic and exciting to be around? Did they feel like a best friend that you could tell anything to or did they feel like a maternal figure who would take amazing care of you during labor?
You will have time to ask important questions during the doula interview. Most trained and experienced doulas are amazing at providing practical support and can tailor their care to an individual’s unique needs. During the conversation, you will have the opportunity to learn about what sets this doula apart from other doulas and how they can help you have your best birth.
The internet has many websites that include long lists of questions. Here are a few resources to get you started:
Birth Boot Camp – How to Interview a Doula
DoulaMatch – Screening and Interview Questions
DONA International- Hiring a Doula: A Guide for Parents (pdf that contains an extensive list of interview questions)
Lamaze International- All the Doula Interview Questions You Need to Ask (and Then Some)
After the interview
No kidding, after meeting with my midwife, we weren’t even back to our car yet when my husband looked at me and said, “She’s the one.” I was so delighted to hear him say that because I responded, “Yes! I know! I’m so glad you love her!” I hadn’t even told him beforehand she was the midwife I wanted. But I still wanted to meet the last midwife on the list, just to be sure.
What did my decision boil down to?
How I felt.
It wasn’t her experience or training. I knew every midwife I met would be skilled and could provide wonderful care to keep me safe during my labors. It wasn’t her price. Honestly, she was WAY out of our price range. Like way way WAY out. But I was determined to somehow make it work. I prayed for miracles. They came, but not in the time that I hoped. That is another story for another day. But eventually, we paid our midwife in full.
She made me feel cared about, heard, safe, and confident. Her personality was a great fit for me. She gave me time to talk and ask questions and did not overwhelm me with too much information. Most importantly, I thought, “I just need this person at my birth.” I felt the same way about my doula. Because we were friends first, I never had an interview with my doula. I just knew I wanted her at my births.
This will be the time to ponder how you felt in each doula’s presence. Maybe you had an experience like mine where you knew immediately, “Yes. This person needs to be at my birth.” Maybe you loved all of the doulas you met equally, but one just sticks out more than the others for a reason you can’t define. Or maybe none of them stuck out more than the others, but one of them likes the same exercise program as you, which will be enough to have a fun connection throughout your pregnancy and birth experience.
It is my hope that these suggestions will help you have an amazing doula interview. Best of luck finding the perfect match for your upcoming birth!