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Interviewing Doulas

So many doulas! So little time!

Are you one of those people who gets nervous about meeting new people? Do you want to interview a few doulas to make sure you get the best "fit" but not really sure what questions to ask?

In the decade (or so!) that I have been a doula and a doula educator, I have had many, many, many interviews with potential clients...and taught many, many, many student doulas how to navigate interviews with potential clients. I feel like the process of meeting strangers who you will pay to watch you be naked and pushing a baby out of your body can be an intimidating one. After all, you are interviewing someone who is going to see you (and perhaps members of your support system) at your most vulnerable. What do you say? What do you do? What exactly is a "good doula"?

There are all kinds of interpretations of what a professional perinatal support person should "be" and "do"...after all, there is a lot of diversity among seeking doula care! Some people choose their doula based on who comes up first when you Google "Doulas Kitchener Waterloo Cambridge". Some people need a little more reassurance than Google analytics when it comes to their birth worker, and that's why interviews are a great way to find out WHO you are going to be potentially sharing these intimate and life-changing moments with.

There are already some great "questions to ask a doula during an interview" lists out there on the internet. I think those are a wonderful place to start. As a practicing doula, however, I would encourage you to not be afraid to delve a little deeper when you are getting ready to invest your money in doula services...not because I think that there are ill-intentioned doulas (generally, doulas are some of the most lovely people that I have met), but because I think some of those questions that BabyCenter/BabyList/ The Bump/etc. are pretty generic. 

Here's my cheat sheet of questions that you should ask your potential doula (yes, even me!):

- Are you a certified doula? Who did you certify through? Is that a company that you own or work for?

- If I needed to submit a copy of your certificate to my insurance company and/or accountant, would you be willing to photocopy it for me?

- Is doula work your primary career or is there a chance that you will be at your other job when I go into labour? How will you manage? Will you have pre-arranged childcare? How soon will you be able to join me at my preferred birthing location? If your boss gives you an ultimatum between your doula arrangement with me and with your current place of employment, which will you choose? How will that affect me?

- Do you have reliable childcare? What is your back-up plan?

- Do you have reliable transportation?

- Do you attend births in all locations (home, hospital, birth centre, etc.)? If I was planning on a homebirth but needed to transfer to the hospital for any reason (including personal preference), would you join me?

- Who is your favourite obstetrician and why? Can you give an example of a time where you worked collaboratively to achieve a positive experience for your client?

- How are you received by local care providers?

- Are you comfortable supporting someone who may make vastly different choices throughout their perinatal experience than the ones that you would make for yourself? Can you provide an example?

- Where do I park at the hospital? What is the best elevator to take to the childbirth unit? Do I need to leave a deposit to get a key card?

- Describe a birth where you felt that your presence made a difference and how your clients (and their care givers) reacted. Describe a birth where you felt that you could have done better and how your clients (and their care givers) reacted.

- What are your experiences advocating for plus-size clients? How about clients of colour? Clients with impaired mobility? Communication barriers? LGBTQ+ clients? Describe a situation where you made a positive impact. What does it mean to be an ally?

- What current books, blogs, and journals dedicated to perinatal issues are you currently reading? Why?

- Why are you a doula?

- What do you love the most about being a doula? What do you like the least?

Warning Signs!

- Your perspective doula is seriously and/or chronically late without a good reason

- They are not "dressed for success". There's no need to be all fancy, but this is still an interview.

- They can't stop checking their phone or they are text-a-holics. If you aren't their priority now, you will not be their priority later. Their family should also respect their "client time".

- They talk too much or they don't talk enough. Nerves are to be expected, and sometimes someone has a caffeine high - but the interview should be enjoyable and you should leave feeling happy

- They are rude to your children/pets/partner/barrista/etc.

Some doulas are perfectly lovely people and superb professionals, but you find someone that you just fall in love with and you know that they are an ideal match for you. We believe that there is a doula for everyone, so don't feel shy or embarrassed to let us know that you've found your dream doula - we will be happy that you found someone that you are excited to work with.

I believe in instincts - sometimes you just know that something is a good idea...always trust your instincts!

Good luck on your doula search!