Questions to ask when hiring a doula

This will be my first time hiring a doula.  And I use the term “hire” loosely at this point, since I do not currently know if I will be able to pay one.  However, the few I have spoken with so far sound delightful, helpful, and understanding.  I am very much excited to get to meet two doulas in person next week.

Most people who will hire or think about hiring doulas will be paying quite the pretty penny for their services.  In my area at least, birth doula services cost anywhere from $250 to $1250.  Their services usually include two prenatal visits, the labor and birth, and one postpartum visit.  Though, from what I hear, they are worth their weight in gold and in fact statistically lower your chances of enduring unnecessary interventions.

I think that probably the most important aspect of the doula a person hires is their personality.  During an interview, the best way to get a good look at a person’s personality is to ask open-ended questions.  I have compiled quite a long list of questions that would be useful in determining a doula’s personality, expectations, services, availability, and qualifications.  I do expect the doulas I meet to ask me plenty of questions, too.

Questions to ask when hiring a doula:

  • Why did you become a doula and what do you love most about it?  What motivates you and excites you about this work?
  • What skills, qualities, specialties, or abilities do you feel you have to offer?  What tools or comfort measures do you bring or provide during labor?
  • What are your philosophies and beliefs about childbirth?
  • How do medical professionals usually react to your presence?  Have you ever experienced any tension with them?  If so, how did you handle it?
  • Do you have children?  Do you have childcare arrangements if I go into labor at any time?
  • What were your own birth experience(s)?
  • What are your experiences with breastfeeding, breastfeeding support, and what are your philosophies about breastfeeding?
  • How many births per month do you attend?
  • Do you have any references?
  • Do you have any limitations?  Any doctors, midwives, or nurses you cannot attend births with?  Any physical limitations?  Any specific time limitations, especially in the event my labor is very long?  What point would mark labor being too long and surpassing your capabilities?
  • If you, for some reason, are unavailable for the birth, do you have any back up doulas?  May I meet him/her?
  • What, specifically, do your services include?  What type of pre-labor support do you provide?  How long do you stay after the baby arrives?
  • Will you attend a prenatal appointment with me to meet my midwife or OB/GYN?
  • Will you meet with me to help me write or go over my birth plan and discuss your role during labor?
  •  When and how should I inform you that labor has begun? Will you come to my home in labor or will you meet me at the place of birth?  At what point in a woman’s labor do you try to join them?  Will the distance between our homes affect when you choose to arrive during labor?
  • May I contact you before or after labor if any questions arise, and by what method?  Will you be unavailable at any times?
  • Are there any books, workshops, blogs, classes or any other pregnancy, labor and birth, or newborn care resources that you recommend to pregnant women and/or parents?
  • How will you support me if my birth, for any reason, becomes more medical than we hoped?  For example, what if I need a planned induction or planned cesarean section?  How would you feel if I choose to/choose not to receive medical pain relief?
  • What are the most important things you think I should be doing right now to prepare for my birth?

 

And probably most importantly, you should ask yourself these questions once the interview is over:

  • Did you feel comfortable enough in her presence to relax, let loose, and expose your inner fears and desires about your birth?
  • Did she listen well and reply thoughtfully to the questions you posed?
  • Did you find her soft, comforting, nurturing, and warm (if that is what you’re looking for)?
  • Do you think she’s strong, attentive, and caring enough to respect your wishes and help advocate for you during your birth?  (As a side note, a doula cannot directly address a medical professional with your wishes, but she can prompt you to inform the medical professional of your needs yourself.)
  • Do you think you would feel comfortable with her touch when you reach out for support or reassurance?
  • And lastly, do your personalities “mesh” well enough to continue positive interactions (not get on each other’s nerves) should your labor last a long time?

I hope things go beautifully smoothly next week, and I can’t wait to meet these awesome ladies!

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