I'm now on the receiving end of questions during a consultation, but I also interviewed doulas when we hired someone for our fifth birth. You may be wondering what questions you should even ask a doula, and unsure of what matters most. First, google your doula! Check out their profiles on the various doula sites, read through their website and Facebook page, and see what you can learn about their philosophy of birth, reviews from other clients, etc. Sometimes you can even see their availability with online calendars. (Warning - those may not be accurate, sometimes I forget to update my calendars on the various sites so it's worth contacting the doula to check!) Then when you find some doulas you're interested in working with give them a call or email to ask more. Before you even set up the consultation it's good to talk with the doula over the phone to cover some basics:
Are you available for my due date? Are there any conflicts in your schedule at that time?
What is your fee? What does that include? (Number and type of visits, special services, etc?) What's your deposit/refund policy?
How far do you live from my home/birth location and how much time would it take you to come when I call?
If you're happy with the answers to the above questions then here are some more ideas for what to ask during your consultation. You also want to get a general feel for how you, your partner, and your doula interact. Are you able to speak candidly? Do you like the dynamic of how all three of you interact? Does your doula's personality meet your expectations for the type of person you want at your birth - you may want someone energetic and talkative, or someone calmer and soothing. Here are specific ideas to get more details as you visit:
How many clients do you take a month, and specifically near my due date?
May I speak with former clients of yours?
Are you available to answer questions throughout the pregnancy and postpartum time? With what restrictions (only certain times of day, only set amount of time after the birth, etc?)
What are your back up arrangements? Would I meet them before the birth?
What do you feel is the role of a doula? What do you feel is outside the doula's scope of practice?
Would you be available to attend a prenatal visit to my care provider?
Why did you become a doula?
Are you certified, through whom, what did your training involve?
How many births have you attended? What types of locations, births, special circumstances have you had? (VBAC, cesarean, home, birth center, hospital, premature, special needs, etc?)
Have you worked with my care provider/my birth location?
How do I best contact you and when would you join me in labor? How long would you remain after? Under what circumstances would you ever leave my birth and what are your back up arrangements in that situation?
What labor coping techniques do you suggest?
How do you involve my partner in my care?
How do you feel about _______________ (anything important to you - use of epidurals for pain management, out of hospital birth, breastfeeding, etc.)
If I were to have an epidural or cesarean how would you provide support?
Are there any situations for which you would NOT accept a doula client?
What makes you unique as a doula? What sets you apart from the others that would compel me to hire you?
Hopefully that will give you some ideas to begin your discussion with your doula. Obviously you don't need to ask ALL of these - you'll have your own questions come to mind, and your doula will also have some questions for you. Ultimately you'll need to find the doula that feels like the best fit for your birth team, and there are wonderful options out there. Here's a photo of our doula with the two babies whose births she attended - we love our doula!