How to hire a doula

First, evaluate your own needs and expectations. Finding the perfect doula means first knowing what matters to you. What are your expectations for:

  1. The doula’s philosophy and values around childbirth and parenting? You want a doula who matches your own philosophy or can unconditionally support your beliefs and desires around childbirth and parenting. Questions to ask a doula about philosophy around childbirth and parenting.
  2. Fees? What are you expecting to pay for a doula’s services? Information on evaluating doula fees
  3. Training, education and certification? Information on evaluating doula certifications

Second, search for available doulas in your area.

  1. Enter your due date and zip code. The search results will return every doula who is available to work in your geographic area.
  2. Note that doulas are listed in the search results ordered by when they last updated their availability. Doulas who have updated their listing within the month are the most likely to be active and available.
  3. Make a quick review of the doulas in the search results. Looking at the doula’s profile and her website. Evaluate the information she’s posted about her business, service package, style of care and philosophy. Find 3-5 doulas who look interesting and feel right to you for further contact.

Third, send an inquiry email or call the doula.

  1. Professional doulas who are serious about serving families will return your email or call within 48 hours.
  2. Confirm the doula’s availability.
  3. Ask a few questions to find out if you’d like to continue a face-to-face meeting. See Interviewing Questions
  4. Listen carefully to her answers. Do you like what you hear? 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?
  5. Ask for a face-to-face interview so you can meet the doula in person and find out if she’s a good personality match for you and your partner.

Fourth, interview the doula.

The in-person interview gives you and your partner a chance to see if you comfortably fit with the doula.

  1. Ask the doula to meet you and your partner for an interview. Choose a location that feels best and safest for you: Your home, a coffee shop, library or community center, for example.
  2. 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. Interviewing Questions
  3. Ask for references from previous clients (or her doula trainer if she’s quite new).
  4. 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?

Fifth, research the doula.

After the interview, be sure to continue your research. Good due diligence and vetting means:

  1. Contact the doula’s references.
  2. Ask your care provider if they’ve had the opportunity to work with the doula.
  3. Carefully review your doula’s hiring contract or letter of service agreement.
  4. 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.
  5. Does the doula’s certifying organization offer grievance policies and procedures?
  6. What recourse does she offer families if you are unsatisfied with her service or if she fails to provide service?

Sixth, hire the doula.

Congratulations! Your thoughtful decision to hire a doula greatly increases your chances of both a satisfying childbirth and early parenting experience.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.