By Toni Hill, DEM,CBE, CD, CPD, AWP (Madriella)

You’re about to go on the journey of a lifetime. I’m sure everyone has told you that a Doula is a must have at every birth. What’s more important is finding the right Doula for your baby’s grand entrance. I encourage you to interview at least three Doulas while deciding on who is right for you!

1. How long have you been a Doula? This is a loaded question and has to be followed up with: How many births have you done? Your Doula can be someone who finished her certification requirements while having a family or someone who volunteered at a high volume birth center for experience. The number of years she has been practicing may not always reflect the number of families she has served. Regardless of experience, ask her for reference of a couple of families she has served.

2. What is your birth philosophy? Often your Doula will have this already prepared and ready to spit right out to you and sometimes your Doula will not. Regardless of her philosophy, your Doula should be supportive and respectful to what your wishes are.

3. How much are your services and what do they entail? Are there any additional fees that may come up during my care? Your Doula should have a set price for her Doula services. Often times, she has this already in print on her website, contract, or print literature. Some Doulas charge more for mileage, longer hours of support, additional prenatal visits, additional services, etc.

4. Are you available for my due date? What is your client load like? Doulas control how many clients they choose to take on in a certain time period. If your Doula has been practicing a long time and is very well known, she may take on far more clients than the new Doula starting off who is getting established in the birth community. Either way, part of this answer should include information about back-up situations if the Doula is unavailable for any reason. In busy birth communities Doulas generally have another Doula who she can/will call if she is sick, at another birth, or has an emergency. If you live in an area with only one or two Doulas don’t expect her to have a back-up.

5. Why did you become a Doula? This question let’s you know where your Doula’s heart is. She may have jumped into the Doula world for extra income, because she wants other women to experience birth like she does, as an activist, or to improve birth outcomes for a particular group/class of women.

Although, there is no wrong or right answer to these questions, take the time to write down what answers you are looking for in a Doula before you interview the first person. As you interview, see which Doula answers closer to the answers you have. If you feel comfortable with her, she/he is the right person for you. Happy Birthing!