There are many different types of doulas, but this post is focused on questions to ask a birth doula during the interview or consultation phase. The person that you want to be by your side supporting you and your partner to navigate through pregnancy and birth. A postpartum doula has a very different support role so I will do a similar question list for that interview in the future.
**Please Note** If you are interviewing ME and you miss any of these questions, I will be sure to offer up the information so you are informed!
Top 13 Interview Questions To Ask A Doula:
(1) What kind of training/experience do you have?
(2) What is your philosophy about birth and supporting birthing people and their partners through labour?
(3) Do you have a contract for your services?
(4) Do you have a back-up doula available in case you are unable to make it to my birth?
(5) Do you have liability insurance? (this one is totally your own preference, as doulas, we do not participate in anything medical that may go on during birth, but unfortunately, when something goes wrong people typically look for someone to take financial responsibility)
(6) When will your support begin? At home? At the hospital?
(7) Will you be "on-call" for our birth? If so, for what time frame?
(8) Do you offer a sliding scale for your fees?
(9) Can we set up payment arrangements if we can't afford a lump sum payment?
(10) Will you meet with us after the birth to follow-up?
(11) Is my personal information kept secure and private?
(12) In what ways will you support my partner during pregnancy, labour, and the birth process?
(13) Can I reach you in between set meeting times if I have a question?
With all these questions answered, you should be well on your way to deciding if this doula is right for you and your partner. Determine if any of these are "deal-breakers" for you ahead of time, but also give the doula a chance to gather information if it relates to something they are not familiar with. There are hundreds of issues and concerns that can happen that not every doula has dealt with personally.
Bonus Reflection Questions
In addition to the above questions, the most important thing to consider when you interview a doula is how you feel about them.
When the interview is over sit with your partner and your feelings and answers these questions:
- do they make me feel uncomfortable?
- do they make an inappropriate amount of eye contact with me when speaking?
- does their body language say they are not listening or engaged?
- does my partner feel uneasy or uncomfortable around them?
- does it feel like they would push their own personal agenda onto my birth?
- do they make me feel like this isn't my birth, my body, or my decisions?
- do they have reservations or objections to my idea of an optimal birth experience?
- do they project their own personal biases onto me and my partner?
- do they talk more about themselves than about me?
- does it feel like they are judging me based on the color of my skin, gender, heritage, disability, or financial situation?
- do they make me feel uneducated in a demeaning way?
- did the interview end with me feeling more intimidated and worried about birth?
- did the interview end with me having more questions than when it began?
- do I have an uneasy or "gut" feeling that this is not the right person for me?
- did the interview end with us feeling uneasy about meeting with them again?
If you answer "yes" to ANY of these questions, I would call another doula and set up another consultation.
How do you tell a doula that they aren't the right fit for you?
You just say it!
Don't be afraid to follow up and tell them how you feel. A lot of these feelings in the above list seem very obvious and intimidating red flags, but it is very important that you don't make compromises for your care and support and ignore them. You don't owe them anything after the consultation, but it would certainly be kind of you to explain some of the reasons to them so they can take that feedback and hopefully improve their interpersonal skills for the next person that contacts them.
You will not have the birth that you want with a doula beside you that makes you feel like any of those things so never compromise. A doula usually becomes a doula to help people in a caring and loving way. Perhaps somewhere in their journey, they have lost their ability to be informative in a compassionate way and don't even recognize what they are doing or how they are making you feel.
They need to hear it, so don't be afraid to say it.