Finding the Best Doula: 10 Questions You Need to Ask

Hiring a Doula

Birth doulas have become more common in recent years, and it’s no wonder why!

Having a trained doula at your birth has been shown to decrease birth trauma, help limit unwanted medical interventions, and even lower your chances of needing a c-section.

As doulas become more commonplace, many expecting parents wonder how they should go about finding the right one for them. With no specific training or licensure required in order to be a doula, you might have questions about what exactly makes a doula a good one!

There is never a wrong time to hire a doula, but if you are hoping to build a relationship with them during pregnancy, you may want to start looking sooner rather than later.

If you just decided to hire one late in your pregnancy, try not to worry! Some doulas do take last minute clients.

Here are ten questions you can ask a potential doula in order to find out if they are the best doula for you. There are no wrong answers, only answers that make you the most comfortable!

Why did you become a doula?

Doulas get started in their work for all kinds of reasons, and it’s never a bad idea to understand why they decided to pursue this path. It can give you a better understanding of how they approach birth work, and give you the chance to determine if you feel comfortable with them on a personal level.

Did you complete a training program?

Training programs are not required in order to call yourself a doula, and aren’t even necessarily required for you to be a good one! However, this question can help you get an idea of the knowledge that your doula will be bringing to the table, and how invested they are in their work. Often if a doula has not completed a formal training program, they will still have plenty of self-study and experience under their belt.

How many births have you attended?

While this might not matter to every expecting parent, some mothers might prefer a more experienced doula while others are more concerned about cost.

Student doulas can be wonderful additions to the birth team, and seasoned doulas may have a higher client load or charge more for their services. Decide which pros and cons are important to you and go from there.

Working with a Doula

Do you have any specialty training?

Many birth workers engage in continuing education, or offer specialty services that they have training in. Some doulas might also be massage therapists, or offer baby wearing tutorials. Some may even be experienced in more traditional birth arts such as belly wrapping or prenatal nutrition.

Find out what extra knowledge a potential doula has available… you might be surprised!

How often will we meet during the pregnancy?

The number of times you meet with your doula before the birth can vary a lot depending on the practice. Some doulas prefer to work in teams, which means you might not even meet the person on call until you are in labor! Some, on the other hand, offer many visits with lots of prenatal education throughout your pregnancy.

If you value feeling comfortable with everyone who will be with you during your labor, make sure your doula offers adequate prenatal visits to make you feel comfortable.

What is your general philosophy on birth?

Doulas, like other professions, can have vastly different perspectives about pregnancy and birth. While they are often experts at supporting your choices in birth no matter what, you may want to find out how they feel about things like epidurals, c-sections, water births, or anything else that you have strong preferences or desires about.

When will you be on call for my birth?

It is pretty typical for doulas to go on-call for their clients starting at 38 weeks of pregnancy and extending through to the birth. However, due to high client loads, some doulas may have a stricter timeline for when they guarantee their presence at your birth. Make sure you take some time to understand their practice so that you don’t get any last-minute surprises.

Doula Interview

Do you work with a backup doula in case of emergency?

Birth workers are typically very committed to their work, and have backup plans upon backup plans in order to make sure they are available to their clients when they get the “Oh my gosh it’s happening!” call. However, even the most committed doula might experience an emergency, two clients going into labor simultaneously, or be unable to reach you for an unexpected reason.

Find out if they have a backup doula they work with, and if you’ll get to meet them before the birth just in case.

Have you ever had to miss a birth, and why?

Along with their emergency plan, it can be helpful to find out if your doula has ever had to miss a birth they committed to, and why. This can help you feel more comfortable with your choice, or give you the opportunity to pass on someone that doesn’t make you feel as confident.

ALSO: 4 Tips for Managing Nausea in the First Trimester

This question is especially important if you live in a more rural area or are working with a doula who will have to commute a bit to get to you.

Do you offer postpartum care as well?

Birth doulas can, and often do, double as postpartum doulas. However, not all birth doulas offer postpartum visits, and not all postpartum doulas attend births! It’s worth asking some questions about postpartum offerings, recommendations, or options your doula might have. Postpartum doulas offer a range of wonderful services for new moms, and if you already have a relationship with them, all the better!

You can use these questions as a guide and conversation starter when searching for the best doula for you, but above all, make sure you feel comfortable with how your doula makes you feel! Do you feel safe? Heard? Respected? At the end of the day, how you feel during your birth will in part depend on the people you invite to be with you.

Taking the time to find a doula that is right for you can seem a little daunting, but don’t worry! If you have friends who have had birth doulas, start by asking them for their recommendations. Don’t be afraid to interview several options until you find the best doula for you! After all, it is your birth and no one elses.

Bethany Robin

Bethany has been blogging about the struggles, pitfalls, and just plain insanity of parenting as a millennial since her oldest was born in 2015. She's also worked extensively as a doula and has four children of her own, including toddler twins.

Subscribe to the Parentology Weekly Newsletter