Hiring a Doula? Here's What to Ask


doula and babies
London King and a few of her Push Love babies
(including my twins)
When I learned I was pregnant, London King of Push Love was one of the first people I wanted to call. She wasn't my mom or my sister (I called them first, of course), she was a doula -- a highly recommended doula who helped my sister and some of my friends during their pregnancies and births. Still, when we thought about hiring a doula, my very practical (and money conscious) husband wanted to make sure it was necessary and we were armed with questions for London.

Here's what we asked when hiring our doula ...

  • Do you have any children?
  • What was childbirth like for you? 
  • Why did you become a doula?
  • Are you certified and trained? Tell us about your credentials.
  • Have you worked at the hospital/birthing center where I will deliver? 
  • Have you done homebirths?
  • How many births have you attended?
  • Will you come with me to my doctor's visits?
  • What birthing techniques do you use?
  • How do you feel about pain medicine?
  • How would you feel if I choose to/choose not to take pain meds?
  • How will you involve my husband?
  • Will you be there when I am in labor?
  • If I have to have a c-section what will your role be?
  • What is your fee? And what services does that fee cover?
  • Is that fee negotiable?
  • How and when do you accept payment?
  • What if I am unsatisfied with your services?
  • What is your availability -- do you have other births expected at the same time as mine?
  • How available will you be to me during my pregnancy?
  • What if you are unavailable when I am in labor? Do you have a back-up I can meet beforehand?
  • Do you offer postpartum visits?

We interviewed London at our house and the minute she walked in, I knew we were a great match. She had a great personality and made us comfortable. We also knew we wanted a doula who had been there -- a woman who had experienced birth herself. You can decide if this is important to you as well. Because our doula was going to experience one of the most important moments in our lives with us, we wanted to know her take on the birth of her own children. The way London described her own two very different births with such love made us realize how passionate she is about how children are brought into this world -- no matter the route they decide to take.

Some may want a doula who has attended many births, but as with anything, we all have to start somewhere. Plus, doulas starting out often don't charge as much so you may want to be open to a new doula if money doesn't permit a seasoned one. Provided all checks out, of course. 

London taught me a lot -- from HypnoBirthing to how to burp my twins after they were born. She also did meditations with me during my pregnancy that were so calming -- she even help reduce the swelling in my ankles from meditation and massage.

You'll want to be open and honest with your doula since she is there to help you. So share your feelings on pain medications and your birth plan ... plan A and B. Maybe even plan C. I ended up having an emergency c-section and everything I learned from my doula helped me stay calm when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome after laboring for four hours.

I ended up becoming very close with my doula and now call her a friend. I also know she has great VBAC energy so if I ever get pregnant again there is no doubt I would want her there with me.

Are you considering hiring a doula?


Image via Michele Zipp

baby prep, homebirth, labor & delivery


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briar... briarraindancer

I'll probably hire a doula. I had wanted a midwife who could deliver at home, but Nebraska's laws are archaic. Since home delivery probably isn't an option, I definitely want to have someone who will be my birth advocate, a role my husband and I will likely be too busy to play.

I haven't started interviewing yet, so this list will be very handy. Thanks, Michelle!

Xakana Xakana

I had a doula with my first birth and the crap they have to deal with at the hospital made her just there to help me with my labor and breastfeeding--not as an advocate or anything :( I ended up with an iatrogenic cesarean after a long labor followed by a coached pushing phase, despite trying repeatedly to say I didn't want to push like that (I was squatting at least).

Still, I wish I'd had one for my VBAC. In hindsight, I seriously missed that comfort and connection as I screamed alone in the hospital bed, begging for someone to help, while my frightened husband and daughter stressed because they didn't know what to do to help me, as I waited 8 hours for pain relief from early onset transition. She might not have been able to stop the pain, but she could have helped me deal with it and made me less alone. I don't even remember those hours anymore. It was a blur. I remember everything after the epidural (except when I was asleep, obviously) and my wonderful, easy birth, but it would have been nice if there had been any chance the epidural could have been avoided.

Or maybe someone to recognize that it was not normal for me to smile at my baby and hand her off without any desire of my own to hold her and tell someone what I, myself, would be unable to do for almost a year. The epidural broke our bond and I suffered from PPD for months after because of it. Alone because I was too traumatized to ask for help.

nonmember avatar nonmember

No, I would not hire a doula - I have a husband who helped me through all three of my children and I would have absolutely not wanted anyone else there with us. It was just us and the midwife. Secondly, an epidural does not in any way prohibit a woman from bonding with her child. An epidural is not some narcotic that renders one out of touch with reality. I had three epidurals and was immediately given my baby after birth - in fact my husband actually was able to catch them all and hand them right to me while he cut the cord. The baby was left with me for an hour or longer before anyone took them from me for weighing and what-not. We had immediate skin-to-skin contact and immediately nursed each time. All three were EBF for about 18 months after. It was wonderful. I was up and walking around within an hour of delivery - no problem. I never had one moment of PPD. Don't scare women with your experience and uneducated thoughts as to why you developed PPD.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I had a wonderful doula attend my birth.  A doula in no way takes away from a husband's role during birth.  Their roles are actually very different.  I had a great experience.  My son was born at a freestanding birth center with a direct entry midwife attending.  I think a doula is even MORE important to have in a hospital setting.

kerij... kerijeanbean

I had a doula at the birth of my third child.  She was there as my friend not as my doula.  I knew her before she became a doula.  It was actually kind of fun for her.  She was able to just enjoy the birth of my little girl and not be working.  She also said that we actually had everything under control and she was impressed with how relaxed we were with all that was going on and with our support network.  She came for her lunch break to visit and got to stay for the birth.  If I were to have another baby I would probably hire her as my doula.  I had talked to her about it when I found out I was pregnant, but money was really tight at the time.

sstepph sstepph

Id love to have a doula for my next birth!

sodapple sodapple

never tought about it. the less people the better.

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