So You Want To Be A Doula
I'm inspired to write this blog post because we get several inquires each month from people asking how to become a doula, if they can shadow with us, or if they can pick our brains about doula life. I would LOVE to sit down with each of these aspiring doulas over a cup of coffee and listen to their hearts. However, in addition to being a busy doula, I'm also a mom to four young children and if I'm not investing time in my clients, I'm pouring my heart and my energy out to my family. So... please don't be discouraged, passionate new doula, on your journey. I'm not going to be able to meet with you in person, but I am going to give you some of my favorite resources to help you get started! Pretend that we are sitting with our coffee or whatever beverage you prefer (although I strongly suggest that you start liking coffee if you don't already so you'll be able to handle those all-nighters) and let's chat!
Books. There are SO many birth books out there. Likely, if you're considering becoming a doula, you've read several of these. My favorite books on specifically becoming a doula, the logistics of it, caring for families, and building a business are The Doula Book and The Doula Business Guide. Books are an inexpensive way that just takes time to give you a ton of knowledge.
Birth Professional Groups. My favorite nation wide doula group is Love What You Doula on Facebook. There's so much to learn from other doulas / aspiring doulas who post here. Other doula groups exist, but this has been my favorite. If you're local to the Triad, check out Triad Birth. There's a Triad Birth website and facebook page. They have regular meetings and this is an amazing networking opportunity for you to meet birth professionals in our area. Another great place to network and ask questions that is specific to doulas in North Carolina is the North Carolina Doula Organization.
The Birthful Podcast. Adriana Lozada is a doula and she runs The Birthful Podcast and it is absolutely incredible! I've listened to almost every episode and the content she has is amazing. I recently had an opportunity to share my birth stories with her and I felt like I was chatting with a friend because I have listened to her for so long. She can be a virtual online doula mentor for you!
Doula Training. There are several different doula training organizations out there, but taking a good training and getting certified is very important. I'm trained and certified through DONA International and I LOVED my training. DONA has several trainings in NC each year, so it should be easy to find a training close to you. DONA also clearly outlines on their website the process to be certified.
Doula Challenges / Things You May Not Know. Now, I say the following in love. I say these things because I want you to understand the challenges. There are challenges in every career and this is no different. When I became a doula, two very wise doulas sat down with me and asked me "Do you really want to be a doula? Do you want to be awake for 40 hours straight? Do you want to miss your child's first birthday? Do you want to spend Christmas away from your family? Are you ok going out of town only a couple of times a year? Are you ready to leave what you're doing at any time of the day or night to go to a birth? Do you understand the sacrifice that happens when you take on the doula lifestyle?" At the time, I was a little shocked at their serous tone when they asked me all these questions. But I'm glad they asked. Because all these things have happened. We don't go out of town often because I want to be there for my clients. I have missed birthdays. I've spent 12 hours on Christmas Day with a family laboring hard to meet their baby. Personally, I LOVE this lifestyle, have a very supportive family, and I'm fine with all these things. But most people are not on board with this lifestyle, so I think it's important for me to mention this up front. If we were at a coffee shop together, I'd ask you all these questions. Another challenge that you may not know is that when you are a doula, you're self employed. You work for yourself. So you find all your own clients, you take care of all your accounting and taxes, you buy your own health insurance, and you work as much or as little as you want. This model works well for my family because my I get health insurance through my husband's job and he's the primary monetary provider in our home. I'm not saying that you can't build an awesome doula business - you absolutely can! But it typically takes a while to get a business running - it's not just like you apply to be a doula at a hospital and start working 40 hours a week from the start. So there's my honesty part. Again, don't be discouraged.
If you read that paragraph and thought "YES! That's exactly what I want to do!" Then go on! Do it! Pursue your passion! We need professional, trained, and committed doulas to support families in our communities! I hope that this was a little bit of help as you embark on your doula journey!
Update: If you are looking for a doula locally who can mentor other doulas, reach out to Angie on her website to see if she can mentor you. One of the big barriers to shadowing these days are covid restrictions in the hospitals (they only allow one doula). But there are possible other ways to be mentored.