So you want to be a doula?

So you want to be a doula

I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to become a doula. Sometime in the year after my daughter’s birth, the idea was planted in my mind, as I wanted to help others with the knowledge and passion that had grown inside of me. In her second year of life, I decided I should pursue it, but it took me months to actually take the plunge. I know waiting for good for me and my circumstances, because I became a doula when I was ready.

Choosing this path hasn’t been without its fair share of work. I think before anyone decides to pursue work in this business, it’s important you sit down and really think about some things. Your life will change, but hopefully for the better.

Are you ready?

Being a doula takes incredible mental, emotional and physical strength. Mentally, you need to be sharp and ready to act at a moment’s notice, armed with your information arsenal. You will be facing some tough challenges – births that didn’t quite go as you planned (even though the parents might be happy), care providers that you butt heads with, and possibly even difficult clients. Anything can happen in a birthing room! Emotionally, birth can have you all over the place. From a beautiful birth that brings you to tears to one that breaks your heart. Attending the birth of another woman can bring up feelings over your own births, whether you perceived it as good or bad, and you have to be able to control those emotions somewhat to get the job finishing. And physically? Well, you will be up and down, on your feet, squatting, rubbing backs, massaging, and awake all night long. Can you handle it?

Being a doula is also time-intensive. Not only could you be at a birth for any length of time, you will also schedule one to three prenatals with the couple, plus a postnatal visit, not to mention the initial interview. There’s also the advertising, the trainings, and maintaining your website, if you choose to have one. Taking any number of clients per month could be almost a full-time job!

Do you have the right support system?

The biggest challenge I faced wasn’t in the birthing room, it was at home arranging childcare for my toddler. The on-call life isn’t a forgiving one and you need your support system of friends, family, and others, behind you. Is your partner supportive of your new career path? Will your children be alright if you’re gone for 24+ hours? Do you have friends and family you can rely on to help out at a moment’s notice? The simple way to know is to ask people for help. You might be surprised as to who is willing to be there for you! But having that support behind you is key.

What sort of doula do you want to be?

I chose to be a labor doula, because I wanted to be in the birthing room and helping the new families. There are also postpartum doulas, who specialize in family and newborn care after the baby arrives. If, after doing some careful thinking, you realize you don’t want to be a doula but still want to impact the birth world, there are other paths to take: A wide variety of breastfeeding opportunities, childbirth education, and pregnancy fitness and nutrition, to name a few.

Will you certify or not? Where?

You do not need to be certified to practice as a doula, however it is highly encouraged that you take a training and certify through an organization. Obviously, this is a decision you have to make after doing your research. Some of the most popular organizations are:

CAPPA (where I did my training)
 DONA
CBI
BAI

Just to name a few. There are countless organizations you can train through that offer a wide variety of options. No matter where you go, you will be ready to attend a birth and use your skills wisely, and have that support system of other trained doulas behind you. The major differences in organizations would be their policies (such as regarding attending home births) and how they approach their certification process, as well as pricing and location. Look at each organization, ask others, and weigh the pros and cons. You will find your right fit.

So you want to be a doula?

That’s AWESOME! Welcome to the club! There is still such a need for doulas out there in the world. Start talking to people and network. Get a feel for the business. And then… take the plunge. It’s worth it!

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