Hiring a Doula, Part III: The Interview

This week, we’re wrapping up Hummingbird’s three part series on Hiring a Doula. We’ve gotten into how to find doulas in your area and broken down the cost. Now, it’s interview time.

The Interview

Unless you work in HR and interview people as part of your job, chances are this is brand new territory for you. Most of us are used to being on the other end of an interview: answering questions, showing enthusiasm, appearing polished. We usually don’t find ourselves in the other seat. Here are a few key pointers for how to conduct an interview with your potential doula.


Once you’ve conducted your search, I recommend meeting with 3-5 doulas before making a decision about who you want to work with. Even if you feel a great connection with the first person you meet, it’s a good idea to meet a few more doulas just to compare. Although most doulas ascribe to the same basic principles of the Midwifery Model of Care, we all have unique approaches and temperaments. We might say similar things, but it’s all in how we say them. Find the doula who speaks to you in a way you’ll find comforting, uplifting, energizing, and inspiring during your birth.

Get Your Partner Involved (Again)

This bears repeating: dads and partners almost always feel sweetly surprised by how much their doula’s presence supported them during the birth of their baby. Your partner should be at every interview and, ultimately, each prenatal meeting with you and your doula. As much as your doula is primarily at your birth to support you, she also needs to work nicely with your husband, boyfriend, wife, girlfriend, or whoever else you choose to have in your birthing space.

Be Open

Try to give the doulas you’re interviewing an accurate picture of your health, how the pregnancy has been going, and what your expectations are for your labor and delivery. Share whatever information you can. For example, it would be helpful to know if you’ve had a previous c-section, have gestational diabetes, or are aiming for a water birth. These details help doulas gain a better understanding of where you’re at and what you’re looking for from her.

You Won’t Know Unless You Ask

No question is silly or stupid when interviewing doulas. Here is a list, by no means comprehensive, of some questions you may want to ask the doulas with whom you and your partner meet.

  • What will we talk about in our prenatal meetings?

  • When and where do you join a mom in labor? Early labor? At home? Hospital?

  • How long would it take you to get to my house/the birth center/hospital X?

  • How do you work with doctors, nurses, and midwives?

  • What will you do to physically support me?

  • Do you have experience with VBACS/water birth/twins/hypnobirth/etc.?

  • What do you do if a mama’s plan starts to go awry?

  • Have you attended c-sections?

  • Can you help with breastfeeding?

  • Why are you a doula?

  • What do you do outside of doula work?

  • Are there times you are unavailable around my guess date?

  • Do you work with a backup doula?

It’s up to you and your partner, of course, how to interpret your potential doula’s answers. Is it most important to you that she join you at home before you all head to the hospital together? Maybe she needs to live within a 20 minute drive. Or, do you feel most concerned about making your voice heard in the hospital? Perhaps a strong advocate who is great at speaking with hospital staff is who you need.

The “correct” answers to the questions above are completely up to you. The one question your doula must answer “yes” to, is if she works with a backup. Even if she is 100% available for the four weeks surrounding your guess date, she should have a backup in place, just in case. Her kids might get sick, her car might need service, there might be a snowstorm. Things come up. She should offer to find a backup or agree to work with someone you choose.

Sign a Contract

Once you’ve found “the one”, get your expectations in writing. Your doula should have a contract or letter of agreement ready to go for you. If there are any changes you’d like to make to the plan, make sure you speak up. For instance, your doula offers two prenatal meetings and one postpartum visit, but you’d rather only meet once prior to the birth and have her visit twice afterward. Or, she has agreed to care for your older child in your home until your parents arrive while you head to the hospital. The best doula for you will be willing to create a custom plan that makes you all happy and meets everyone’s needs.

Happy interviewing! And best of luck!