Here is a typical doula interview questionnaire and my answers to those questions. A copy of these questions is available here.
BACKGROUND, EDUCATION, PHILOSOPHY
What is your education for providing labor support? Are you certified by a labor support training program?
I have been a birth educator since 2006. I trained with ALACE (the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators). This organization now exists as 2 separate organizations, the International Birth and Wellness Project and toLabor. During the years I have been teaching I have occasionally attended births as a doula. In the fall of 2013 I made the decision to pursue training with New Beginnings Doula Training and expand my birth education business to include doula services, as well as birth education.
I am a Certified Professional Doula.
How long have you been in practice? How many births have you attended?
I have been teaching for 10 years (since 2006) and I have attended 24 births in a doula capacity (as of May 2016).
Do you have education and experience providing any other type of care for childbearing women, such as childbirth education, midwifery care, nursing care, breastfeeding support, or postpartum doula support?
In addition to being a doula, I am a birth educator. I have experience with adoption support, as well. Additionally, I am certified in Neonatal Resuscitation through the American Academy of Pediatrics' Neonatal Resuscitation Program.
How do you view your role at the birth?
I see my role as that of a Sherpa. I get to help pregnant women navigate the often unfamiliar terrain of labor and birth. I speak the "native language," so to speak. I am a guide that will help you flesh out your own values surrounding birth, direct you toward resources, help you communicate with your provider, help your partner be available to you during the birth and free you to just enjoy becoming a family.
If you were looking for a doula to be with you at your birth, what would you look for?
Personally, I would seek out someone with whom I agree on birth philosophy* and someone with whom I could have a good working relationship. My husband would need to agree with the choice, as am hiring her as much for him as for myself.
*A question that is not on this questionnaire, but that I feel is very important is that of birth philosophy. So I will ask and answer it here.
What is your birth philosophy?
I believe birth is a normal physiological process that works best when left alone as much as possible.
Birth is the "becoming" of a family. This experience will be remembered by you for your lifetime. It is important that this be an empowering experience, not one that strips you of your power, so informed consent is something I will repeat over and over. You being active in decisions about your care is very important to me and a role of the doula that I take seriously.
What arrangements do you have for back-up if you are not available to attend my birth?
The way I set up my schedule, this is extremely uncommon. Obviously, though, we will be prepared for emergencies and I do have backup.
Generally a backup would be used in the case of a client going into labor earlier than expected, or in case of personal emergency or illness in the doula's life or family. Most clients begin labor after 38 weeks, so at that point I go "on call" for you, meaning that your labor is #1 on my schedule until you have given birth. Even if we have not entered the "on call" period, I will do everything in my power to get to you even if you go into labor prior to 38 weeks, but if there is something on my schedule that cannot be rearranged, I would call my backup. I would also use a backup in case of a personal emergency (personal illness, for emergency). A backup may also be used in the case of a very long labor. If I have been with you for 24 hours I will likely call in a backup. A fresh helper and new perspective will likely be welcome at that point!
I have 2 or 3 doulas that I use as backup. I will have arranged ahead of your birth for a backup doula who will be available if I am indisposed. I have not yet had to utilize a backup doula for any of my clients. This information will be found on your "When to Call The Doula" handout. You would still pay me as we agreed and I will arrange payment for the backup doula.
Can I meet the individual who may be backing you up and providing doula services for me in labor?
Yes. We can arrange that.
Do you know of anything now that may cause you to be unavailable around the time of my birth? Do you have any other clients who are due around that time?
You can see my availability for births here on my Availability Calendar. I seldom take more than 2 clients per month. It would be extremely rare to have 2 clients laboring at the same time.
What are your fees? Are there any possible extra costs I should know about?
I charge a fee of $750 for doula services. Any other fees would be for services that are extra. See my fees here on my website.
Do not let my fees hinder you from calling me. Scholarship may be available. I am also open to barter. If you or your partner have a useful skill, let me know!
Do you have any experience with reimbursement from health insurance plans?
I do not file paperwork for reimbursement from any insurance plan. If your insurance covers Doula Services, let me know. I can help you through the process. I do have a NPI# and I am familiar with the procedure for reimbursement. I will assist you as much as I can. I have had clients who have been reimbursed from a med-share program. Read here for more info about insurance reimbursement.
Do you accept alternate payment arrangements, such as sliding scale, time payments, or barter?
I do not use a sliding scale. I prefer to discuss your need with you personally and we can come up with something mutually agreeable. I love a good barter. Through the Parenting Partners program, I do offer a 10% discount on Labor Doula services for those clients giving birth at a Bon Secours facility.
Would you meet with me/us before the birth to discuss our preferences and concerns?
Absolutely. I prefer to meet with you in person before you hire me. After that we will have 2 prenatal education visits, where we will discuss your birth preferences, concerns and how I will best serve you during your birth.
What services do you provide during labor and birth? What do you bring with you? How do you help women cope with labor pain?
During labor and birth, I will provide continuous, compassionate, hands-on support for both the laboring woman and her partner. This can play out in a variety of ways.
Support is often emotional as well as physical. No matter the situation, you and your family will change during your labor. Guiding families through this "becoming" is a major part of my job. Additionally, I provide assistance in interpreting medical jargon, protecting the peacefulness of your labor space, labor positioning, tools for helping your labor's progress and your comfort, aromatherapy, amateur photography as needed (often, I will pick up a camera to record something lovely), and assistance in establishing breastfeeding during the hour after birth.
I will bring a variety of tools for labor such as massage oil, heat packs, a list of affirmations, aromatherapy, a rebozo, and others. However, any doula will tell you that her best tools are her hands and her words.
When would you come to be with me in labor? How long would you stay after the birth?
I would plan to come when you need me. Ideally, we would be in touch early in your labor and we would decide together when I should be there. Often, this means coming to your house and laboring with you for a while prior to heading to the hospital. After the birth, I want to stay until I see that you have established breastfeeding if that is your desire, and until your provider is through with you, but I do not want to stay so long as to interfere with your family bonding time. This usually turns out to be between 1-2 hours.
Do you provide any services in the postpartum period? What about reviewing my labor and birth experiences or helping me with breastfeeding? Are you available by phone? In person?
I do one postpartum visit within the first 2 weeks after your baby's birth. This visit is used for processing your birth if you want to (and are ready to). We can talk about what went well, what you wish had gone differently, what surprised you, what was exactly as you anticipated. We will also discuss your adjustment to the postpartum period and I will review with you, screening for postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders. I can help with basic breastfeeding and if you find you are in need of more help than I can give, I can get you in touch with a breastfeeding specialist.
I am always available to clients past and present by phone, text or email. If you have need of a postpartum doula, I can put you in touch with someone who can meet those needs.
How would my partner/husband fit in?
This is my favorite question!! I love helping partners be a real part of the labor, to be there fully for you, to be present in the moment as you become parents (or parents again). I see it as my job #1! I want to free your partner to be what you need them to be. This is their "becoming" as well and I see no need for them to have the added pressure of knowing everything about birth. Your partner knows you, I know birth. Lets team up and make this experience great!!
What do you see as your greatest strengths?
I am a good listener. I ask a lot of questions. I am always pushing you to have all of the information you need to make fully informed decisions. I am polite. I am adaptable. I am a relentless seeker of knowledge pertaining to birth. I am always learning and open to changing my mind.
EXPERIENCE WITH MY CAREGIVER AND BIRTH SETTING
Have you provided doula services for other women who have used (my midwife, doctor, or maternity practice)? (If yes:) What was that experience like?
I may have. Contact me for this information.
Have you provided doula services for other women who have given birth at (the place where I plan to give birth)? (If yes:) What was that experience like?
It is likely that I have. Contact me for this information.
May I please have the names of some women who have recently worked with you as their doula, for reference purposes?
Absolutely. Contact me for this information.