"You Win Some, You Lose Some"... Thoughts on Interviews

Within the first two months of this year, I interviewed with eight women who were looking for doula support for their upcoming births.  Of those eight, four of them hired me and four of them found a better fit.  I'll confess that when I heard back from three of them in a row that they'd chosen another doula, I couldn't help but ask myself why?  Was it something that I said or didn't say?  Did I talk too much?  Did I leave out helpful information?  Did I have spinach in my teeth?  The more I thought about how the interviews went, I was reminded of what I've believed all along since starting down this path of doula work:
  • There is the right fit for every woman and I am not always that right fit
  • As my friend and fellow doula Val Peterson has said many times, "There are births that you are meant to be at and others you are not"
  • For every birth that I am not supporting, another fantastic San Diego-based doula is, and I am so happy that a family has found the doula who felt right
I was still curious though, what it was that made me the choice for some and not for others.  I decided to take a risk and email a few of the women who'd chose another doula.  Here's what I wrote:

Hi Ladies,
Hope that this email finds you well.  I hope this isn't totally weird... I've never done this before... but as I was reflecting on the interviews that I've had this year and going over those which resulted in women hiring me for their doula and those who chose another, I had the idea of emailing those of you who chose another and wanted to ask for your feedback.  I hesitated at first because I don't at all want to come across like I'm bummed out or anything along those lines.  Not at all.  I always tell women when I meet with them and I mean it- the most important thing to me is that women find just the right fit for them when it comes to labor support.  For some of them, that's me.  For others, it's someone else.  I know what a hard decision it can be sometimes- we have SUCH a wealth of options when it comes to doulas.

So here's what I'm wondering- would you share with me, if you're comfortable, what it was about the doula that you chose that made you go with her?  Would you also share if there was anything from our interview that stood out as a reason that I wasn't the right fit?

I've been thinking about writing a blog post on interviewing as a doula and sharing from both the place of being hired and not being hired and would love to use any feedback from this email as I put down my thoughts. 
I realize I may not hear back from anyone on this and that's ok.  Just thought I'd at least try.  I'm always curious how interviews go in the mind of the person doing the interview :) 

All the best to you and your growing babes-

I got a few replies and I loved their honesty.  Here's what L said:
You'll laugh at our reasoning... Ultimately it was because you were too much like me and I thought we would be too good of friends.  I know that sounds weird and actually it made it a harder decision because you and our doula we hired were so opposite.   I kind of wanted someone with more of the "maternal" feel to me instead of my buddy that I would hang out with on the weekends.  (Huge compliment to you, btw).  We thought you would both do your doula "jobs" superbly well and when it came down to it, I think it was just more of a gut feeling.  
Kudos to you for bettering your knowledge with this email to perspective clients!  Good luck!!

I totally get what she meant.  I've talked about this very thing with Annely Allen, who is a dear friend and also my doula partner (we back each other up frequently as well as co-doula for clients sometimes).  Annely has commented a few times that she's been told by women who've hired her that they just knew when they saw her that she was the one and that they were looking for a more "motherly" doula.  On the other hand, I've also been told by women who've hired me that they just knew when they saw me that I was going to be a good fit for them and that they liked the fact that we were similar in age.  To each her own. 

The other response that came in from S was:
Nope, not weird at all :)  I don't have much feedback to give, really. We loved you and it was such a hard choice to make!  I guess in the end what it came down to was the medical background and experience level that the doula we chose has.  I don't think it was a personality thing or interview thing.  I just felt like because she had such a strong medical background I could really trust everything she had to say in that department.  I feel like as far as a labor partner and emotional support person, it was really even.
I guess in the interview it might have been cool to hear more from you about your professional background, what made you want to become a doula and some of your more interesting or memorable birth stories and how you handled them.  I liked hearing the stories of some other doulas and it was very interesting to hear about their techniques and knowledge applied in real situations. I think in a first time pregnancy it is very hard to know WHAT to ask a doula since everything is so new and foreign.  It seemed comforting and helpful to me when they led the conversation and gave me lots of information so I didn't have to try and figure out what I should be asking.

This feedback was really helpful to me.  Even though as doulas, we do not offer medical advice nor do we provide any clinical services to our clients, for some women, it's important to them that their doula has a medical background, whether it's in nursing, as an EMT, etc.  While I don't think that a medical background is necessary for a doula to have, I understand that it's comforting to some women.  

I also appreciated her feedback about the interview.  It's always interesting walking into an interview as there are some who come with a list of questions to ask me (either found online or in a book or come up with themselves) and there are others who seem to only ask a few questions and then look to me to direct the conversation.  I'm happy to do so and enjoy sharing from my experiences, yet at the same time, am pretty selective in what I share since they are other women's birth stories.

In a nutshell, after corresponding with these women, I feel all the more the three things I shared at the beginning of this post.  As I continue to interview with women and am hired by some and not by others, I hope that this perspective will remain.  I imagine that other doulas go through similar self-questioning after hearing back from someone they interview with and find out they aren't being hired.  If I can encourage you... know that you ARE the right fit for some and not for others.  Know that while there is always room to grow, you are who you are and that is just right.  Be confident in what makes you, you and assured that the births you are meant to be, at you will.


  1. What a great exercise Jenna. Kudos to you for being brave enough to prioritize self growth and learning. It's so funny because we went with you for the exact reason that the doula we had with our second child was more "maternal" (and by "maternal" I don't mean maternal at all, as you are very maternal, but as being from the generation above me where she could actually be my mother and our relationship would have that dynamic) and we loved that feeling like you were one of us. We did not at all set out looking for that but when we met you, it just felt like a breath of fresh air, so perfect for where were. This was our third birth. We weren't looking for someone to mother us per say but to support us in a way that completely respected our wisdom and experience from our previous 2 births. The doula we used with our second birth was just what I needed for that birth. You were exactly what Joshua and I needed for this birth. We felt like you were in a partnership with us, bringing to the table your wisdom and experience and objective mother voice but on the same level as ours.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I am a new doula and am in love with the work, the journey, the mamas and the babies but mostly with my co-doulas and the community here in SD. I have done two interviews and all you have said and suggested and the feedback is true to my little experience. With love and trust

  3. I think that was such a great idea! I might try that one as well. I think your right in saying that there realy is just the right fit for everyone and who you choose as a doula is important. I only wish women would do the same thing with their other care providers.

  4. I like this part of your post:
    "There is the right fit for every woman and I am not always that right fit"
    Yes that is true in most cases. Every pregnant woman has its own likes and dislikes and they always feels what's best for them like the doula they would get.

  5. Doula here: I think choosing a doula is like falling in love. :) There are times when you just "click" and know that you feel safe with someone. It can't always be explained!