Interviews, aka Getting to the Heart of the Matter

I have often been asked what questions you would typically ask at a doula interview. There are a great number of sites available that have detailed lists but, in my humble opinion, too often they don't get to the heart of the matter.

For that reason, I decided to compile a list of my own interview questions.These are not, per sae, questions that I have been asked, but rather, some I have been asked and some I wish I were asked.

Tell me why you became a doula?
This will give you insight into her, personally. This will also give you a good indication of her emotional health going into births.

What is your personal philosophy about pregnancy, labor and birth?
You may uncover some of that in the prior question, but this will also give you a passionate look into her personality and attitudes surrounding the birth event.

What is your personal definition of a doula and her role?
This is a good one. The Greek term is so generic, it misses the point of the heart and depth behind what a doula truly is. We are more than labor support professionals, more than women's servants.

Have you received training as a doula?
I prefer this question to 'are you certified' because there are many doulas who have extensive experience, chose to decertify, or are beyond certification in their practices that may miss out on clientele simply because the question is phrased wrong. Likewise, there are some doulas who get a 'free ride' on their certification, but could really use a little more experience... and even others who are newly certified, but are very competent and  experienced. 

Have you taken any additional training/education?
Some doulas have taken massage therapy classes, homeopathy, counseling, trauma assessment, IBCLC, CPR/AED, Midwifery assistant/apprenticeship, childbirth education, personal training, nutritional counseling, or other pertinent training that might be helpful.

Can you give me an example of a more challenging birth, why it was challenging, and how you worked within that atmosphere/challenge?

This will give the doula you are interviewing a chance to both give you examples of her work, how she handles adversity, and a chance to showcase her experience.

Can you give me an example of a blissful/beautiful birth and why it was blissful/beautiful?
This will give the doula you are interviewing a chance to both give you examples of her work, a happy birth story, and also give you, the mother, some ideas of what you might want to incorporate into your birthing time.

Do you have references? 
2-3 past clients and 1-2 professional (peer) references are ideal.

Can you give me an example of what your services include (phone, email, prenatals, postpartum, etc..)?
This should include information on information/accessibility prior to your prenatal visits, what is covered in your prenatals, when you will have her at your birth, how long she stays afterward, and what postpartum services she offers. Additionally, this should include 'other' services she offers to you as a doula.

Do you have back up? 
This one is important. Many doulas work independent of other doulas. Cooperation/back-up with at least one other doula is ideal as this ensures that, if she is unavailable for any reason (emergency, illness, etc...) you will still have birth support. There should also be a way for you to be able to meet with them. 

What is the most important tool you bring to women/a birth?
This will vary by doula. It helps you to know their philosophy and strengths. 

Likewise, this is the basic information that the doula you are interviewing would like to know in order to know if she would be a good fit for you:
  • What is your estimate due date (EDD)?
  • Where are you planning on giving birth and who is your care provider?
  • Do you have any other children and, if so, what was their birth(s) like?
  • What are your hopes for your birthing time? (medicated, unmedicated, etc..)
I hope that my doula interview questions have helped give you some ideas for your interviews. If you have any other suggestions or thoughts, I would love to hear them!

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