by Ann F. Grauer, LCCE, CD (DONA), ICCE, PCD (DONA)
Q. What kinds of questions should I ask a potential doula during an interview?
A. Choosing the right doula for you is a very personal decision. If at all possible it is a good idea to interview several on the phone. Even if you are very comfortable using email for communication you will want to call her. Doula work is based on a relationship of trust. It is much easier to decide if you feel comfortable with a doula if you speak with her. Then, you should arrange to interview in person the doulas who seem to fit you the best. I'd like to emphasize that in the interview process you should not only listen to the answers the doula gives. Rather, you should listen to your gut response to the doula. Does something about her not feel quite right to you? Do you think she may not be the right one but she seems "ok"? You only get one chance to have this baby and welcome him/her into your life. If your gut says that she is not the best fit for you, then do not hire her. The questions you'll need to ask depend on what type of doula you plan to hire.
A doula is a woman who provides critical support before, during and after childbirth. Unlike a doctor, midwife or nurse, she is not a medical practitioner. Instead, her job is to focus entirely on the non-clinical side of things. There are two kinds of doulas: birth and postpartum. Some women hire both, some just hire one, depending on individual needs.
During labor, birth doulas provide around the clock care, comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, massage and positioning, and an objective, calm perspective They also help educate families about their options during labor, guide partners to participate with confidence and at their own comfort levels, and serve as a liaison between the laboring mother and her medical professional.
Postpartum doulas, on the other hand, make life easier for the new mother and family in the first weeks after childbirth. In addition to providing emotional support, they offer advice on newborn care and infant feeding. They can also lend a hand with siblings, cooking, laundry and helping your household to feel more organized.
When interviewing a birth or postpartum doula, ask:
- What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you should check with the organization to verify her status.)
- Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
- What is your fee, what does it include, and what are your refund policies?
When interviewing a birth doula:
- Tell me/us about your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labor.
- May we meet to discuss our birth plans and the role you will play in supporting me/us through childbirth?
- May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
- When do you try to join women in labor? Do you come to our home or meet us at the place of birth?
- Do you meet with me/us after the birth to review the labor and answer questions?
When interviewing a postpartum doula:
- Tell me about your experience as a postpartum doula.
- What is your philosophy about parenting and supporting women and their families during postpartum?
- May we meet to discuss our needs and the role you will play?
- What different types of services do you offer?
- When do your services begin postpartum?
- What is your experience in breast-feeding support?
- Have you had a criminal background check, a recent TB test? Do you have current CPR certification?
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