It can be intimidating trying to find the right doula. She will play an important role in your delivery, and you may be stuck in deciding who to hire. There are important things to know before meeting a doula, and there are many important questions to ask during a consultation. What you ask varies from family to family on what is important to you. You may care less about past experience and more about relaxation style, or it may be the opposite. Below I discuss 9 of what I feel are examples of questions to ask during your consultation.
First, you'll need to know her availability for your due date, services and rates, ability to assist at your delivery location (hospital, home, etc.), and deal breakers (scent sensitivity, smoking, etc.). Once you move on to the consultation phase, remember that the most important thing is to be comfortable together. Get to know her on a personal level as well as a professional level.
1. Why did you get into the field? Knowing a doula's journey can help you better understand them. It gives you insight into their educational background and other qualifications you may not have known before. You also get to hear the beautiful story of how someone found their passion and were able to pursue it. By asking why instead of how, you get to hear the emotion and hard work that went in to building this career.
2. How many births have you attended? There are many variations on how to ask this question, depending on how important past experience is to you. You may want specifics as to how many vaginal versus cesarean or how many in general, or maybe you want to know how many years she been doing this. It's a good idea to know what experience she has, even if it has little importance, so that you can have a better idea of who you're working with.
3. What have you learned from them? There is always something to be learned from every experience. There may be something your doula learned that can help you during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or your postpartum period. Pick her brain; she should be eager to share her knowledge with you.
4. How do you, personally, formulate a birth/labor plan with your clients? How a doula prepares with you for your birth may vary. She may request that you formulate a plan with your provider and will simply follow it or she may want to be actively involved in the process. Make sure that you're aware of how you may want to write your birth plan, if you haven't already, so that you can make sure your styles will mesh. If you need help writing it and your doula isn't able to help you, you'll want to know that so you can find another person to help you do so.
5. How will you incorporate my partner? Birth is an intimate thing. A doula knows that one of the most important parts of her job is incorporating your partner and allowing him or her to be the primary support for you. Labor and delivery often brings couples and family members closer together. Knowing how a doula will allow for that to happen is important when preparing for your big day. You'll want to make it clear to her how important it is to you to have certain people involved and certain people to be as far away as possible. She can help keep a room of your loved ones organized and productive instead of in the way and intrusive.
6. What would we discuss during our prenatal visit(s)?
A prenatal visit is when a doula prepares you and herself for the big day. How she will do this may vary from doula to doula. She may have you practice certain positions to see if you like them or will tell you her techniques and you decide if you want to use them or not. Knowing what she will go over during this visit will help you determine if that will be enough to get you ready and comfortable for the day you give birth.
7. When would you join me?
When a doula joins you is not a concrete science and every doula has her own method for deciding. This is important to know as you may want her to come whenever you decide your ready, or you may want her to come only when its time to push. Knowing what she prefers to do and how long she wants you to wait before she joins you is important in deciding if she's the right doula for you.
8. Are there any deal breakers you have?
Everyone has specific things that, when discovered, makes the decision to not hire you immediately. Just as you likely have one or more for your doula, she probably has one or more for you. For me, personally, it is a smoking family. I have asthma and, unfortunately, that means it's hard for me to breathe when I'm around those who smoke, even if they're not smoking in front of me. For others, it may be scent sensitivity which would mean no essential oils or perfumes. It's important for all deal breakers to be discussed openly because there;s nothing more stressful or awkward as trying to figure out how to get out of the agreement you've already made to each other.
9. What are you most passionate about?
A doulas passionate is what is going to drive her labor technique. Listening to her tell you her passion will also give you further insight into her personality. You may find something to connect with that you hadn't before. As I mentioned before, it is important to get to know her on a personal level as she will play a role in the birth of your child and your comfort is key when it comes to this relationship.
Remember that these are simply suggestions on what you could ask your potential doula. These are not required questions, nor are they all you should consider asking, but this is a good place to start. I wish you the very best luck in finding the perfect doula for you and your family!