An Interview Guide for Hiring a Doula Part 1
This will be a 2 part series with a downloadable interview guide!
Figuring out where to begin your journey is intimidating. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was all over Google trying to answer just this question! I wrote this post because of that experience so you can go in to any interview knowing what questions to ask.
The Nitty Gritty
These are questions you can ask in e-mail, or over the phone, to get a sense for a doula's credentials.
1- What training have you had, and through whom?
CAPPA, DONA, Birth Arts International, and Still Birthday are all certifying agencies (and there are more, if they give you another, Google it!) that have solid programs for teaching doulas the ins and outs of our trade. Ask for their certificate, and possibly follow up this question with "What Continuing Education Credits have you taken?"
2- Are you certified. Why did you choose to certify (or not certify)?
Doulas can become certified by their training organization, taking the training does not a certified doula make, though! Many organizations have requirements that include attending a specific number of births and obtaining reviews, extra reading, online training courses, attending lactation and birth classes, etc. Many doulas have done all of this, but choose not to certify because of the high cost of obtaining and maintaining certification through a certifying agency. One is not necessarily better than the other.
3- How many births have you attended, where, and what is your service area?
Zero is a fine answer, 100 is a fine answer. It's all about your personal connection to that specific doula, but with experience comes an innate knowledge and care you can't get from a book. A Doula who's attended no births will have no reviews so you're hiring someone without reference, which is something to consider. You will want them to be available in your area, at your preferred birth setting (hospital, home, or birth center). If you are planning on moving while pregnant, make sure your doula also provides service to your new area!
4- do you have references of recent past clients?
Many doulas have satisfied customers, so ask! They may be able to point you towards written reviews online, or give you contact information for clients. If you contact someone via phone or e-mail, clearly state you obtained their information from the doula, and could they provide an account of their experience with them. Was the doula punctual, respectful, easy to get a hold of?
5- What are your fees and what do they include. Do you take payment plans?
To avoid sticker shock, most doulas in most areas of New England should be charging 500-1500 for their services depending on experience and additional services offered. If you hire a doula earlier in pregnancy, most will offer a payment plan to help ease payment.
What should their services include? Every doula is different, but they should provide at least one Prenatal meeting (not including an in-person interview) and one postpartum meeting, 24 hour on call service around your due date, a back-up doula, up to 24hrs continuous labor support, phone and email support up to and after birth. Additional services may include: Photography, Placenta Arts, Massage (from a trained massage therapist), Reiki, Yoga instruction, henna, and many more!
6- Do you have a sample contract I can review?
A contract protects you, and your doula and spells out specifically what the expectations are for a great number of situations. I would never recommend hiring a doula without a contract.
7- Are you available for my due date? How many clients do you take per month?
Your due date is not set in stone, make sure they are available for the month surrounding your due date. A busy doula is a great thing, but if she's to busy, she may miss your birth. Make sure, if you hire a doula with a very full schedule, that you're able to meet and connect with her back-up doula as well.