This blog is part of our Meet the Trainer series. Over the next few weeks, we will be showcasing DTI’s talented trainers. Right now we want you to meet Becky Alford, leader of the DTI NYC doula training. Many of you probably know Becky from a training, retreat, or her engagement in the DTI community via our Facebook group. Becky will host DTI’s DTI2 In-Person training in New York City January 25-28, 2018. You can register HERE.
We know that now you are a DTI Educator but what first attracted you to DTI as a doula? When you yourself were looking into taking a doula training how is it that you ended up with DTI?
I had trained/certified as a doula in 1999 but took some time away from the birth world after the birth of my oldest child in 2009. His birth shocked me to my core, and I found myself deserted by many people in my doula/homebirth community when his birth didn’t go as planned. After the birth of my second baby in 2012 I realized I had more to do in the birth world, and that my change in perspective was an asset and not a fault. I had been keeping one eye on Tara Brooke’s doula training organization; Tara and I had met in our home birth childbirth prep class when we were pregnant with our oldest babies and I knew I had a kindred spirit there.
When I realized the other DTI founder had the same type of birth experience I did, I decided to give the organization a chance. I thought getting re-certified could re-ignite my passion. I registered and paid for the training literally the day before it was held, and I stayed up the entire night crying to my husband about how scared I was that someone would question my births or talk about how anyone can birth their babies vaginally if they just prepare and believe. The training was incredible, I made life long friends, and found so much support and community and diversity. Re-certifying and then becoming a trainer and then Lead Educator for DTI has been personally and professionally fulfilling for me in so many ways. I’m so glad I made the jump!
More about my reflections on my births as a birth worker HERE. (Now realizing I need to do an update now that baby #3 was born and was a VBA2C!)
Since your doula business launched what have you learned? What would you look back and want to say to your less experienced doula self?
Set your rate high, put yourself out there from day 1 as a professional and make no apologies for this being your first birth. You will kick the same ass on your first birth as your 500th birth. Make a great website, work on SEO, and attend every doula networking event you can find. Being involved with your local doula community will propel your career like nothing else. You can give back to your community in so many ways besides just providing free births when you are gaining experience. Make a plan for your volunteer work, integrate it into your sustainable business model, but keep yourself thriving so you have the time and ability to give back.
What can you tell us about your local DTI community?
I just moved from NYC to Vermont, so I am missing my NYC doula community! It’s indescribable how many inspiring doulas we have in our NYC DTI community. Full spectrum doulas, community based doulas, doulas with successful thriving businesses, doulas who focus on work with LGBTQ birthing people, birth control doulas, you name it we got it and they are the best of the best.
If someone hasn’t quite immersed themselves in the DTI community in your area how can they get out there and connect with others?
Start with the DTI Facebook group. Your local doulas are probably looking for you too! If there’s not a monthly gathering happening, start one up yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just have everyone bring a bottle of wine or some snacks and share your challenges and wins and support each other. If you don’t have any local DTI doulas, share the online training information to local parent groups and let everyone know how much you loved the training and build your community from the ground up!
If someone is thinking about registering for a DTI training in your area but hasn’t quite made their mind up yet what could they do to figure out if DTI is a good fit for them?
Look at DTI’s social media presence and blogs to see if DTI’s social justice focus and radical inclusiveness feels like something you want to be a part of. Email me, or any other DTI educator listed on our website to talk through your questions about training. Set up a call to talk with someone one-on-one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you describe yourself as a trainer? What is your training like?
I was a teacher for 10 years as well as a doula, so I do think carefully about how the information is presented, how much talking and doing time people in the room have, and how everyone is integrating the knowledge. I really like to focus on evidence based information and will clearly express when information is anecdotal and not coming from rigorous research. I like my in-person trainings to feel warm, inviting, and I want everyone there to feel bonded by the end. I bring the same goals to online trainings- your cohort/group is your DTI family, you will be welcomed and find community in the larger DTI membership, but your training group will keep a special place in your heart. Oh, and I make sure there’s some good coffee and tea, snacks, and a fun party to celebrate the end of the training and introduce you to the community.
Can you describe to us a few moments during a training that you taught that you appreciated or were memorable?
I cry every time we do Dreaming Big. What’s Dreaming Big? You’ll have to attend a training to see!
Can you tell us something about you that even the DTI community doesn’t know?
This is hard. I am a bit of an open book with the DTI community and feel like everything about me is known! But maybe I haven’t talked as much about my reflections on cesareans and VBACs lately.
I have spent so much time thinking about my 3 births and what they mean for me as a birth worker. I bristle when I am called a “warrior” for my VBA2Cs but not for my first two births. The truth is my third birth was easy. She came early, quickly, and just kinda popped right out. I did so much LESS her pregnancy to prepare for her birth, and I believed I had about a zero percent chance of her being born vaginally, so didn’t focus on that during the pregnancy, I just let what would happen happen. My first 2 births? Days upon days of the hardest work I’ve done in my life. Entire pregnancies spent making sure I was physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. So much belief in my body’s ability to birth my babies vaginally. So many mantras and yoga and everything else I could possibly think of. I was pushed so far beyond my limit in those births and crushed so completely at a soul level when nothing worked. Why are those births not celebrated the way my third was? Why is there a collective pulling away from people who have births that go differently than expected? Why do we spend so much time lavishing praise on those whose births go according to plan, as if we alone can control that?
Know that if you take my training you will gain a profound respect for ALL births, ALL outcomes, and for ALL birthing people!