I love this list of questions from the Utah Doula Association on What to Ask A Doula! The UDA provides an encompassing directory of practicing doulas and the various services that they offer. Just like any provider or support person it's important that your doula is a great fit for YOU. Is she available during your due date window? Do your personalities mesh? What is her philosophy on birth? What services does she offer? Does she work with a backup doula? These Top 10 Questions are a great jumping point as your interview and meet local doulas.
*From the Utah Doula Association "Top 10 Questions to Ask A Doula"
1. Are you available around the time of my due date, and do you have any other clients due near the time I’m due?
Doulas are usually very schedule conscious and will respect you by being very honest about availability. Don’t be discouraged! If your potential doula is booked during your due date window, she can refer you to another available doula.
2. Do you have backup arrangements with another doula? May I meet them?
Doulas will often work with a few other backups, especially if due dates for clients are close together. On the rare occasion your doula is at another birth, a backup doula could be there for your birth, or both doulas could choose to work together.
3. What is your training? Are you certified and if so, through what organization and what did that training entail? If not, tell me a bit about your doula experience.
Certification can be a great way to network and keep current on birth topics. However, not all doulas choose to certify and my have other experience that equally qualifies them to work under as a doula. A personality and experience can sometimes trump specific certifications. You can choose according to what works best for you.
4. How many births have you attended?
This is important to some clients, however, remember that new doulas are often eager to learn and equally as committed as seasoned doulas.
5. Are you familiar with my midwife/doctor/birth center/hospital?
An effective doula will have a good rapport with any provider and facility she comes in contact with, and will maintain professionalism at all levels.
6. When would you join me in labor?
Your doula will usually join you at your request, and as all labors vary in length, you may need phone support for a period of time followed by in person support at your home, or your doula may meet you at your facility. Ask about fee differences depending on the length of service time; some doulas charge a flat fee and others provide service for a certain number of hours, an hourly rate after that time is exceeded, and some provide a cap on the total. When you know your doula is the right one for you, she will be worth every extra hour!
Be conscious of your chosen facility’s policies for check-in and if possible, pre-register so your transition upon arriving will be smooth and efficient in the midst of labor. Be sure to tell the nursing staff your doula’s name and approximately when she will arrive.
7. Are you familiar with the labor technique I am learning in my childbirth classes?
Most doulas are very familiar with variants of childbirth classes, and will appreciate and respect your learning curve as you navigate through the information necessary to create your birth plan and birth preferences. Hire a doula who is familiar with your chosen techniques and makes them a priority in your discussions about her role in how the birth could play out.
8. What is your philosophy about birth? Why did you become a doula?
This could be a long or short answer, and either is ok. You’ll find out so much about a doula by asking this! Each doula has her own unique path that directed her to a birth profession. Many doulas have a similar innate skills set, yet very diverse personalities and resumes. Your potential doula’s answer will let you know her commitment to birth and help you form a wise opinion about hiring her for your upcoming birth.
9. What’s your fee? Do you have a refund policy and what is it? What do your services cover?
Fees vary; there is no one standard rate for doula services. Newer doulas may charge less than seasoned doulas, but if you hire a newer doula, be sure to compensate her fairly. She will often put in even more time researching and preparing for your birth than normal, and deserves a big thanks. Some birth doulas will also provide post partum doula services as well, and provide a package rate.
10. Do you have any other doulas you could refer me to for interview? May I contact a few of your recent clients?
It’s a good idea to check a on a few references. Ask what they liked most about the doula and whether there’s anything they wished she had done differently. Again, remember that your doula is your choice. Finding a birth professional to help you during this exciting time could mean a few phone calls and interviews. Be sure to ask as many questions as you have, and in the end, to select a doula that feels right for you.
Don’t hesitate to add your own personal questions to this list, as well as prepare a short synopsis of your familiarity with birth, your past birth experiences, and your expectations of your hired doula.
We wish you all the best in your search to find the perfect doula for your birth experience.
Autumn Alyssa, CHD is a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women and families from Bountiful to Provo in Davis, Salt Lake & Utah Counties