Due Diligence: Interviewing, Researching & Hiring a Doula

This web site is a great start for finding your perfect doula, but you need to do a bit more work to make sure the doula you hire is the right one for you.


Once you find 3 to 5 doulas who are available and look like good matches, you should call or e-mail those doulas to confirm availability and make an initial screening inquiry. It may be helpful to note your first impressions when contacting the doula: was your call or email returned in a timely fashion? Was the doula’s personality friendly, warm, and receptive? Was she organized? Would you like to invite her to interview with you and your partner?

The in-person interview gives you and your partner a chance to see if you comfortably fit with each doula. This is also the time to ask questions about the doula’s service agreement or hiring contract, her training, education and certifications, her philosophy of care and how she works with your health care providers. Ask for references from previous clients (or her doula trainer or childbirth educator if she’s quite new). After the interview, note your impressions: Is this someone you could imagine supporting you emotionally and physically in labor? Is this someone you could imagine supporting your family postpartum? DONA International provides an excellent list of interview questions for both birth and postpartum doulas.


After the interview, be sure to continue your research. Contact the doula’s references. Review her web site. Visit her certifying organization’s web site to understand the standards of practice and code of ethics for the doulas that certify with that organization. Ask your care provider if they’ve had the opportunity to work with the doula.


Once you decide to hire a doula, sign the doula’s hiring contract or letter of service agreement and understand when payment(s) needs to be made. Schedule your prenatal planning meetings with your doula several weeks before your due date so that you have enough time to get to know each other. Your thoughtful decision to hire a doula greatly increases your chances of both a satisfying childbirth and early parenting experience. Congratulations and enjoy your baby’s birth and newborn period!

Doula Certification: What’s important to know?

The doula occupation, for the most part, is unlicensed and unregulated. One way to ensure your doula has met high standards for education, training and experience is to choose a doula certified through a well-known and respected certifying organization or program. While there are many good local, national and international certifying organizations, not all are created equally.

Quality certification programs include these elements:

A quality certification organization will have clearly published on their website:

  1. A Code of Ethics outlining the doula’s ethical responsibilities to her clients.
  2. Standards of Practice defining the doula’s scope and limits of her practice.
  3. A Grievance Procedure allowing consumers, colleagues, or care providers to lodge an objection against the organization’s doula when that doula is accused of behavior that violates the organizations Standards of Practice or Code of Ethics. The goal of the grievance procedure is to uncover the facts of the objection and seek resolution for the injured parties or consequences for the doula, including revoking her certification.

Two examples of quality doula certifying organizations are: DONA International and PALS Doulas

Certifying Organizations

We have a list of links to doula certifying organizations for your convenience. Please visit your prospective doula's certifying organization web site to better understand the training and experience required to certify and remain certified:

     Doula Certifying Organizations