If you have found us and are considering becoming a doula we encourage you to explore the possibility and decide if this profession is the right one for you. We hope that this article will help with your own self-exploration on the subject. We encourage you to contact us, or post to the blog with questions or concerns, that may not be addressed here.
First, just in case you are unclear about the difference between a labor support doula and a postpartum doula here is a brief run down. Labor support doulas join women and partners during pregnancy and birth. Labor support doulas are emotional companions, offer physical support, and a deep understanding about the process of normal birth. Postpartum doulas join families shortly after and offer support with breastfeeding, newborn care and household tasks. You may decide that one role is best for you or that you want to be both a labor support doula and a postpartum doula. YES, you can be both! We talk about managing both roles in our doula trainings and also in this interview with Gena Kirby from Progressive Parenting
For most becoming a doula means tapping into a passion or calling to serve families during birth and the transition into parenthood. This involves being an empathetic person. Doulas by nature are empathetic people. We know how to tap into empathy in our sleep. The role of empathy for the doula is a huge one. Matter a fact most doulas are so empathetic that they can tap into the needs of others before the needs are known to the mother or parents themselves. Doulas truly are Special Women as described in the book of the same title by Paulina Perez and Cheryl Snedeker.
As a doula you have the privilege of being a witness to life’s sweetest transitions. Women who in a moment become mothers, babies first breath, that first breastfeeding latch, raw and intense love between couples as they start to embrace parenthood with each other. These moments stay with us and it is what fuels our career as a doula.
Becoming a doula is not only a job but also a lifestyle. With this comes great responsibility and demands. Labor doulas are for the most part always on call. Even postpartum doulas are not sure when each of their booked clients will give birth to their babies. This does affect your relationships and is of utmost importance to consider when becoming a doula. When a client needs you your job is to be there for them. How will this affect your partner, children, and other commitments in your life? If you are on call you cant have cocktails with friends without thinking about being called to a birth. If you have children, available babysitting needs to be flexible around the clock. The hours may be long, and are unpredictable. Is this something that you can sustain in your life?
Being vital under a lot of demands is important too. In Keep the Fires Burning, author Micky Jones talks about the challenges of being a mother-baby professional. She talks about ways to be sure to keep the passion for this profession and how to develop a self-care plan so that you can stay on track both with your career and with your home life. You can read an excerpt from her book here.
Another thing to consider is your own reasons behind the desire to become a doula. Do you have an agenda? Why do you think you have been drawn to this work? Are you working things out from your own life experience in your work? Explore the relationship you have had with your own birth experience, childhood, and parenting. All of these can actually help in your practice if you have taken the time to truly explore them. But if left untouched, they may hinder your practice.
Please also consider the business side of being a doula. We find that in this career path often the “business of the business” is left out of education and conversations among birth professionals. If you have the fire in your belly as an entrepreneur this part can be lots of fun AND lucrative. Sarah Juliusson, of Birth Your Business is a great resource for doulas looking for help specifically for taking your business to the next level. The reality is that most doulas work for themselves. This means that you set your own fees, collect your own payments, market yourself, and yes, run a business! DTI offers lots and lots of information at our trainings to get you on your way here and also mentor you through the start of this process but it is an ongoing piece of being a doula. Considerations need to be made and time needs to be set aside for this piece of your doula work.