Non-Generic Questions to Ask a Potential Birth Doula

 

The trouble with generic questions is generic answers.

It’s easy to find lists of generic questions for doulas simply by googling. The questions are usually very basic: “How long have you been a doula?”, “How many women have you supported?”, “Where did you take your training?” While this line of questioning is informative,  it fails to give you a clear picture of who you are hiring. It’s time to dig a little deeper, and get more from your doula interview.

Before asking the below questions to a potential doula, ask yourself what you’re truly looking for in a support person. What are your expectations of your doula? What characteristics are important to you in a doula? Someone who is strong and steady? Someone whose presence is calm, quiet, and peaceful? Someone who is immersed in the latest research, and can give you statistics and studies at a moments notice? Doing a little bit of self reflection will help you when it comes time to decide which doula you’d like to hire.

It’s also worth stating that there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. They simply help you to facilitate conversation with your potential doula! The purpose of your doula interview is to get to know each other and see if you’d be a good match for birth and/or postpartum support. A doula may be incredibly skilled at her job, have tons of references and experience, and still end up being a poor match for you. Connection is key.

        "Why did you become a doula?"
This question will give you an better understanding of where your doula is coming from. Does she love birth and babies? Is she interested in empowering women? Did she have an enlightening experience that she wishes to share with others? 

        "How do you view your role as a doula?"  
This question will help you to understand your doula's scope of practice, and how hands on or off she gets during labor. Does she work to bring your partner into the birth in a greater capacity? Does she consider herself a substitute for childbirth education? Does she trouble shoot stalled labor and positioning issues? Will she facilitate conversation with the medical team? 

        "What do you think is the most important thing that a woman should know about giving birth?"
This allows the doula to explain to you her beliefs and philosophy regarding birth and birthing women. Perhaps she’s passionate about supporting you while you build the perfect birth team and create a birth plan. Maybe she thinks the most important thing a woman should know is that she’s powerful, and her work focuses on teaching you to advocate for yourself and use your voice. Perhaps she believes the most important thing you need to know about birth is coping skills, or education. There is no wrong answer, only more revelations about your potential doula!

        "What are you greatest strengths as a doula?"
Every doula has something they do exceptionally well. For some that may mean guided relaxation and and visualization. For others, they know all the tricks for physical comfort. Some doulas are awesome at helping to facilitate conversation with the staff, and helping you with decision making in labor. 

      “What have you learned from being a doula?”
Every birth a doula attends offers her an opportunity for growth. It’s nice to know that your doula is consciously reflecting on her own work, and is applying lessons she learns to the next birth she attends. 

        "What are your expectations of my partner and me?"
Your doula will likely expect that you take the birth and postpartum preparation seriously. This usually looks like reading lists, DVDs to watch, and childbirth education. Most doulas expect good communication from their clients, especially when on call. 

       "Do you offer any other services that compliment your work as a doula?"
Many doulas have a diverse skill set that adds value and individuality to their services. Some doulas are placenta encapsulators, birth photographers, childbirth educators, lactation counselors, yoga teachers, massage therapists, and more! What additional services interest you? 

Self reflect, contact a few doulas ( www.doulamatch.net is a great place to start ), set up the interviews, see who is out there, and meet your doula match!

Jessica Turner is a prenatal & postpartum yoga teacher, and a professional birth & postpartum doula living in Midlothian, Virginia with her tae-kwon-do loving husband and imaginative sons. She believes peaceful mamas create peaceful families, peaceful communities, and a more peaceful world. Visit her website: www.peacefulprenatal.com for more information on classes and services.