I've been to several interviews recently where I was the first doula the family had ever spoken to. While they obviously knew what a doula was and what we do, they were unsure of additional questions to ask. Listed below are several things you might want to ask a potential doula during your initial consultation.
- "Tell me about your training/education." An easy starting question, this will give you an idea of your potential doula's expertise, plus a look at how we came to call ourselves Doulas.
- "Are you certified?" Less important than you might think (see a more in-depth look at certification next week), a lot of families desire a doula that holds a certain credential.
- "How many births do you attend per month?" This is a very important question because obviously, babies don't always come when it's convenient! If your doula takes on more than one client per month, be sure to ask if she has a backup in case of overlaps. If continuity of care is important to you (i.e., you definitely do not want her to send her backup), you may choose a doula that has a smaller client load.
- "Do you offer anything besides labor support?" While this is not always important to expectant families, a growing number of doulas have multiple areas of expertise. If you would prefer a doula that also specializes in massage therapy, belly casting, placenta encapsulation, breastfeeding support, or one who rents birth tubs, this is a good question to ask. Many provide these services at a reduced rate to their birth clients.
- "What is your fee, and how is it paid?" A doula's fee varies by experience, credentialing and location. Many require a deposit to be paid at the time of hire. Be sure to ask about reimbursement in the event that she fails to provide services. Lastly, if her fee is prohibitive to you, don't be afraid to ask for a reduced rate; many doulas take on lower-cost clients when they can, and can at the very least refer you to someone who may be able to meet your needs.
- "Do you have experience with _____?" Do you have special considerations that would narrow your search? Some expectant parents want a doula that has experience with specific scenarios such as VBAC, waterbirth, multiples, pregnancy after loss, or just attending births with a specific care provider. Any special consideration that you would like your labor support person to know about, just ask.
- "Why did you decide to become a doula?" This is a favorite topic of conversation, as all answers will vary slightly. While nearly all of us got into it because of our passion for birth, we all come to the table with different backgrounds that influence how we'll answer this question, giving you a better idea of who we are on a personal level.
- Anything else you think is important! Have them clarify what, exactly, they do prior to and during labor. Will they accompany you in the event of a c-section? An epidural? How will they work alongside your significant other? Ask about their personal experience giving birth, if that is important to you. Very few topics are off limits for your average doula.