What You Should Know About Interviewing Doulas
So, you’re pregnant and have been thinking a lot about how your labor and delivery will play out. You know it’s an important day and you want to do everything you can to prepare for this major event. You’ve heard a lot about doulas recently but you’re still a little apprehensive. You’d like to know more and you are intrigued….but, the last thing you want during this pregnancy is a doula bugging you with a sales pitch. You search around on the internet for local doulas in your area and you keep seeing the words “free consultation”. Free, that’s a plus, but what is this consultation, exactly? What are you supposed to talk about or ask this person?
At this point you probably fit into one of two camps:
1: You are excited to finally learn more about doulas and you have a TON of questions or
2: You feel a little awkward and aren't really sure what kinds of questions to ask.
No one wants to feel unprepared and risk having that dreaded awkward silence. If you’re in this camp and feeling a little intimidated, this post is for you!
Now, there are a million different lists of “questions to ask the doula” floating around in the world of Pinterest, but, coming from someone who goes to consultation after consultation after consultation…I’m here to tell you, those checklists of questions tend to make the consult clunky and really miss the mark!
My favorite interviews to go to are the ones that result in an organic friendly conversation. Listen, we doulas know that you probably don’t fully understand what we do and how we can help you. Therefore, we meet you for an initial consultation! We want you to feel at ease and to understand that we are humans, just like you, who happen to be in the business of supporting pregnant and postpartum people. That being said, try not to focus too much on the Q & A aspect and let the conversation flow naturally.
Ask the doula thought provoking questions. Ask her about her personal life and what led her down the path of becoming a doula. And be prepared to divulge a little about yourself, as well. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship with a deep connection. When you find the right doula, you will depend on her in one of the most vulnerable times of your life. Start to lean into her and see how it feels.
One of the most common questions on the notorious Pinterest list of “what to ask a doula” is, how many births have you attended. I get it. I 100% understand why you would think that this question would be important. Experience means a lot, right? Well, yes usually but, not necessarily in this profession. If the doula was trained properly, she will be ready to support any birth right out of the shoot. A brand-new doula isn’t jaded or burnt out from being on call the last 6 years of her life. They are fresh and they are eager to support!! Speaking of doula training, ask about their training organization. Ask why they chose that particular organization and how that training sets itself apart from all of the other organizations.
Ask about the doula’s relationships with care providers in your area. Ask about their approach to helping clients through unexpected circumstances in birth. Sometimes complications arise and it is nice to know how your doula plans to handle those situations. Ask the practical questions, too. Ask about their contract, price, how many times you will meet and how they receive payments. And ABSOLUTELY ask about their back-up doula and if you get to meet that person. Ask yourself how you feel about a back up doula and how you will feel, if by chance, that doula is the one that comes to your birth.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to be yourself. Be true and honest about your fears, anxieties and hopes about birth. A good doula will never judge your birth plans and will have a coinciding plan to how she can offer you support, no matter what your plans are. Finally, and maybe most importantly, don’t forget to check in with your gut. It might have a lot to tell you about that doula.