What to Ask a Doula: 14 Interview Questions

Last Updated: March 8, 2016
What to Ask a Doula: 14 Interview Questions

If you’re considering hiring a doula for your birth, it’s really 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 we suggest:

  1. How many births have you attended? It is important to have an idea of how much experience she has supporting women in labor. Typically for certification she will have attended a minimum of three births. There is no right or wrong answer for 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).
  2. __Why did you become a doula? __This is such a great “get to know you” question. How did she decide to become a doula? Being a doula is physically hard and emotionally draining with unpredictable work hours and not-great pay. Women who have chosen this as a career generally have chosen it from a place of deep love for mamas and babies. Hearing about the doulas passion for supporting women in labor can be really touching and helpful.
  3. What training did you receive? Are you certified? Training and certification are so important. Always double check on DONA (or with another certification agency) to make sure the doula has certification in good standing. She also may have additional childbirth training (for instance with the Bradley method or hypnobirthing), so that’s worth asking about as well.
  4. D__o you attend all hospital births? Home births? Are there any birth centers you don’t go to?__ Make sure she feels comfortable supporting you where you plan to deliver. Has she been a doula in that setting before? It is best to talk about your place of delivery up front.
  5. What does your pricing include? Look for how many visits her 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 visits (to help with breastfeeding, answer questions, and process the birth). The standard is to offer 1-2 prenatal visits and 1-2 postpartum visits in addition to the birth.
  6. Do you meet with us 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.
  7. Do you have a backup doula? Can I meet them ahead of time? How did you choose your backup doula? This is also pretty important. What if you go into labor and your beloved doula is already at another birth? Who will she call to come be with you? They should have backup so you can feel comfortable that you’ll be supported no matter what.
  8. 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.
  9. __Do you have references I can contact or reviews I can read? __Don’t just take her word for it that she’s a good doula. Ask to speak to some of her past clients. Some websites (like DoulaMatch.net) post public reviews for you to read, which can be really helpful. In some areas, Yelp may also have doula reviews as well. As with any job interview, references are an important part of getting hired.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 her only one! Some of the more experienced doulas might be busier while the new doulas don’t have as many clients at once.
  12. 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? Do you need a quiet, relaxed foot massage or back rub? Do you need a DJ? A comedian? A shoulder to cry on? A doula can be anything and everything, but they usually have a natural style and energy. Ask her what she feels like makes her a great doula.
  13. Do you feel like she is listening to you? Did she ask you any questions? Is she interested in you and what you want? Ideally, a doula should simply be a mirror–reflecting back your desires for your labor and delivery, not their own opinions, biases, or agenda.
  14. And finally (it’s not necessarily a question), but at the end of the interview, do you feel like you clicked with her? 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 her? She will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with her 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.