Are you considering a doula for your birth? Great! They can be an excellent addition to your care team, but you should know what questions to ask a doula before hiring one for birth.
Preparing for birth requires organization, communication, and decision-making. It’s essential to feel confident in your care team – whether you’re giving birth at a hospital, a birth center, or at home – and know that everyone is supporting your vision of birth.
A doula can be a critical team member, especially for birth. But there are some important questions to ask before moving forward with one to support you in labor and delivery (and possibly postpartum!).
- How many births have you attended?
- Do you attend hospital births?
- What does your pricing include?
- Can we meet to discuss how the birth experience went?
- Do you have a backup doula?
- Do you have references I can contact or reviews I can read?
- Do you offer any additional services?
- How would you describe your doula ‘style’?
- Do you accept insurance?
What is a doula?
A doula is a trained companion to support you during your birth experience. They’re not licensed to deliver a baby – like a midwife or OB-GYN – but can instead offer physical and emotional support as you navigate labor, delivery, and postpartum.
What questions should I ask a doula?
If you are considering hiring a doula; set up an interview with each one. It’s important to interview a few potential doulas to get to know them personally.
Since they will be spending quite a bit of time with you, it is essential to feel comfortable with their style and that they respect your wishes. These questions will help you find the right fit.
1. How many births have you attended?
Knowing how much experience the doula has in supporting people in labor is essential. For certification, they will have attended a minimum of three births, depending on each state’s requirements.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. But understanding their experience may be valuable to your decision. Those doulas with more experience do tend to charge more for their service.
You can double-check with their certification agency to ensure the doula has certification in good standing. Or ask to see their certification paperwork.
2. Do you attend all hospital births? Home births? Are there any birth centers you don’t go?
Make sure the doula will support you where you plan to deliver. Have they ever been a doula in that setting before?
It is best to talk about your preference for the place of delivery upfront, as some may be less comfortable in specific locations. Some doulas exclusively prefer home births.
You should ask what happens if the plan changes. If you are planning on delivering at home, and a pregnancy complication changes this plan, will they follow you to the hospital?
3. What does your pricing include?
Look for how many visits their fee includes. Typically doulas offer 1-2 prenatal visits and 1-2 postpartum visits in addition to the birth. There are also specific “postpartum doulas” working with new moms for eight to twelve weeks after birth.
4. Can we meet to discuss how the birth experience went?
Processing your birth with someone who was there as an objective observer can be very therapeutic. Meeting after birth will be an excellent time to ask questions and discuss your feelings about your delivery.
If there is a complication or an undesirable outcome, this can help a new mom understand what happened and heal emotionally.
Read next: What Is a Traumatic Birth? Understanding the Steps to Heal
5. Do you have a backup doula?
What if you go into labor and your doula is already at another birth? Who will they call to come to be with you?
They should have a backup—who you can meet ahead of time—so you can feel supported. Generally, you’ll want to find someone available at least two weeks before your due date and two weeks after, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It is good to ask how many clients you have due around your due date. Typically, most doulas have between 3 to 7 a month.
6. Do you have references I can contact or reviews I can read?
Ask to speak to some of their past clients. Some websites (like DoulaMatch.net) post public reviews for you to read.
You can also ask the hospital about their experience with a particular doula or check out local FB groups for references. It would be best if you spoke to a previous client about their experience.
7. Do you offer any additional services? For example, birth photography or lactation support?
Some doulas are childbirth educators, lactation consultants, yoga instructors, or massage therapists. Some might even offer postpartum care services – during the day or overnight – for both mom and baby.
It’s always worth an ask to see how else they can support you.
8. How would you describe your doula ‘style’?
Do you have a specific routine? Or do you use music, massage, walking, or partner involvement? What is your style?
Doulas can often be anything you need them to be.
Be very clear as to what works for you. Do you like energy? Quiet? Touching or no touching? Would you prefer only certain people in the room? The more you share, the better chance to find the right fit. You can even bring your birth plan and outline what you want.
9. Do you accept insurance?
Some states, hospitals, and insurers are beginning to recognize the positive birth outcomes when doulas are involved, and some insurance companies will cover doula care under certain plans.
Tip: Ask if your hospital offers doula services. Some have a team of doulas employed by the hospital, and their rate is often less than hiring one privately.
Other points to consider before hiring a doula
These are some of the questions to ask a potential doula. You should personalize the interview to what you want for your growing family.
The most important questions to ask yourself after the interview is:
- Do you feel like you clicked with them?
- Do you feel they are listening to you?
- Can you hang out with this person for 24+ hours?
- Do you feel comfortable with them?
They will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times, so your comfort with them is paramount. Hopefully, these questions to ask a doula can help lead you in the right direction to find the support you deserve.
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Dr. Jennifer Roelands is an integrative medicine trained OB/GYN with over a decade of women's health experience. She is the CEO and founder of Well Woman MD, a clinic dedicated to a holistic, whole-body approach to care by using nutrition, lifestyle, and cutting-edge testing. She is also the host of Ignite Your PowHer podcast, a platform for badass female entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry. Dr. Jen is an avid outdoor enthusiast and traveler. But most importantly, she is the go-to math guru for her 4 energetic kids.