Finding a the right doula should be easy because doulas typically offer a ‘get to know you’ visit and you can interview dozens of doulas in Portland, but where do you begin and what do you ask the doula? It actually ends up being kind of complicated and overwhelming for a lot of women when it comes time to hire a doula.
I know there are a lot of suggestions out there, but here are some questions that I came up with that I want to know about the doulas that I hire to be a part of the staff at the Portland MamaBaby Center. These are the questions that I typically try to ask in an interview.
I thought I’d share them with you so that you can interview your doulas in a similar, professional way. Hiring a doula isn’t just about finding someone nice to rub your shoulders and tell you you’re doing a great job, it’s also about hiring a birth professional to be a part of your birth team and it’s important (in my opinion) to know that your doula has the heart for the emotional demands of the job and the head for the business of being a doula.
These are the questions I use to guide my decisions when I hire a doula and I hope you will find something in this list of questions that gives you an a-ha! moment:
- What is your own birth experience like?
- What led you to be a doula?
- What is the best part of being a doula?
- What is the worst part of the job?
- How do you keep a balance between your work and home life? How do you manage to be away from your family from an undetermined amount of time for a birth?
- Can you/do you actually support your family doing this kind of work? Do you have another job?
- What kind of formal training have you had? Are you certified? Will you certify? Why or why not?
- What books have you read? What’s next on your reading list?
- What are some workshops you’ve attended? What is the next workshop you ::want:: to attend?
- What do you see is your role as a doula?
- What do you see as your strengths as a doula? What separates you from all the rest of the doulas working in Portland?
- How do you help to manage pain during labor? What are some examples of comfort care you find successful?
- When would you call in your backup doula? Who do you typically use for back up?
- Under what circumstances would you leave a Mom in labor?
- How many clients do you take a month?
- Are there any other blackout dates in your calendar?
- Do you have any limitations on where you will go or which caregivers you will work with? Do you have biases against hospital birth? Home birth? Midwives? Obstetricians? How do you deal with those biases?
- How do you avoid conflict and maintain a positive working relationship with hospital/birth center staff even if you think they are not doing something ‘right’?
- How do you feel about ___fill in the blank with something you feel strongly about___?
- What do you wish you had known going into your first birth?
Ask her the tough questions. Doulas are supposed to be honest – you need to know that you can count on her to tell you the truth 100% of the time. I really recommend you don’t hold back. What do you really want to know from her?
Also, be prepared for the doula to ask you and your partner questions. She is going to want to know what your experience is like with birth, your views, beliefs, and fears. She will likely ask about your plans for birth, your feelings about medical interventions, and your expectations of her as your doula. Part of the initial consultation/interview process is for her to screen you as a client and make sure that you and your partner are right for her doula practice. I would like to think we have a doula for every woman within our practice at the Portland MamaBaby Center, but I sometimes refer clients to other doulas who have expertise in an area that will benefit that family, and ethically it’s just the right thing to refer when you’re not the best person for the job.
Probably the most important question that you could ask yourself and your partner is do you really like her? I tell women that I think that finding the right doula-client relationship is kind of like that spark that you feel when you first meet a new boyfriend or a girlfriend. There is a chemistry aspect to the right doula-client relationship. Chances are, you’ll know within the first few minutes of meeting if this is someone you would want at your birth.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to feel really comfortable with your doula. The relationship you will form is a really special relationship (at least in my opinion, it should be.) Not only is your doula going to guide you using the knowledge and wisdom she has acquired through supporting women in labor and through birth, but also she is emotionally invested in guiding you and your family through the emotional and spiritual journey that you are on, whatever that means to you.
To schedule a free doula consultation at the Portland MamaBaby Center, please email
or call (503) 206-7715.