By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA) LCCE, FACCE, CLE
In my years as a birth doula, I’ve had a lot of potential client interviews. With around 460 births behind me, I estimate that I have conducted at least 1,000 interviews- probably more, but 1,000 is a nice round number for the sake of this conversation. (In case anyone loves to run the numbers as I do, assuming each interview lasts one hour, that equals a full-time job, 40 hours a week, for one year, just doing interviews!)
I live in Seattle, WA and many birthing families are fairly “doula savvy”. There are hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds?) of doulas in the Seattle metro area. When looking for a doula, it’s very common for families to set up more than one doula interview, typically meeting three doulas on average, before they make their doula decision.
Sometimes I am the first doula they interview and sometimes I am the last. The entire process can take a few weeks to work through, between setting up and coordinating schedules among the three different doulas and the family. And then there is always the possibility of needing to reschedule due to births. When I am the first doula to be interviewed, the family often advises me that they may need two to three weeks to be able to complete the process and make a decision. When I am the last doula interviewed, the process is more abbreviated.
I always wonder if there is an advantage to being interviewed first? Or does the advantage go to the last doula interviewed? By doula number three, have they forgotten me and my brilliant doula abilities as the time passes since our meeting? How do I stay fresh in their minds as they continue with the interview process? Do their memories of me fade? Are they most dazzled by the last doula they meet? If I go somewhere in the middle, what does that mean? Is that a good spot or not? Is there a benefit to going last? Will that doula leave the best impression?
What if they love me? What if we both feel like it is a perfect match? Do they go on to continue to interview the other scheduled doulas? Do they seal the deal and cancel the other interviews? What should my strategy be? Should I interview as soon as possible after we connect? Should I strategically try to go last?
I truly believe that there is a doula for every type of family. I also know that I am not the perfect doula for everyone. I am totally fine with that. But when it feels like a good fit, I constantly analyze where I am in the process, wondering if I have put myself at an advantage or a disadvantage. I wonder if I should be using some strategy for when I interview during the overall process.
What do you think about my ponderings? Have you ever wondered the same things? Do you have more data than I do on this process? If you are a family, looking for a doula, how has the process played out for you? This is something that I have wondered for many years and I am curious to discuss this with others. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to our discussion.