It was a year ago this month, that a single post on Facebook from a friend led me to where I am today in my career. She had just given birth to her surrogate child, and shared an intimate photo of her and her husband with a caption that included thanks to her husband and doula for being such wonderful support during the birth.
This wasn’t the first time I had heard the word “doula”. When I was preparing to have my third child, my midwife at the time asked if I was okay with having another lady at my birth, who was a doula and student midwife. Which if you’re not familiar with already, is pretty common in midwifery. I obliged, not really thinking it would make a difference. However, in the exhausting moments of labor, I vividly remember her swaying with me through contractions, and helping me cope through the pain. I always tell everyone, I love my husband dearly, but during birth he becomes more of a fly on the wall. Which is typically normal with men. They need someone there too to help encourage support, and to give ideas to. Heck, they even need emotional support as well.
Right there in the moment, God spoke to me. This was what I was meant to do. Years of learning about pregnancy and birth, and encouraging and helping other moms, really encouraged this new journey.
So first thing I did was Google, “How to become a doula.” Which is where most people probably start too. Here are the key things I learned that really helped me get my doula career started.
1. Research doula training organizations – and find one that best fits you! When I first started looking into trainings, I found so many online ones. I personally prefer an in-person training, but online trainings may be more convenient for you. Birth Boot Camp has birth doula, postpartum doula, and even childbirth educator trainings in-person or online! While you do not need to be certified to work as a doula, at the very least you should have some formal training before taking clients.
2. Network in the birth community, in your area. I hadn’t even gone to my doula training before joining our local Utah Doula Association. Meeting other doulas in area and creating those friendships has been beneficial not only in my career, but to have incredibly smart and kind woman I can go to for advice, or even to vent. Building friendships with other doulas, providers, and birth professionals can also help you get your name out there, getting referrals and visa versa.
3. Create a website and social media presence. Immediately after training, and feeling confident enough to take clients, I started a website, made business cards, and created social media accounts. I have had many people find me from online searches, as well as the UDA website (and of course networking!) It’s so important to note that being a doula isn’t “just for fun”. Even though I absolutely love what I do, it is still my business, and it’s important even as a “new” doula to treat it as so.
4. Don’t undervalue your worth and abilities. One thing I constantly see with newer doulas, even I struggled with this myself, is not underselling yourself. Yes, you may not have as many births under your belt, but that doesn’t make you any less trained, educated, or dedicated than a seasoned doula. You deserve to compensated for your time, dedication, and hard work. Births are like snowflakes, in that no two are alike. And you bet that I will bring as much, if not more dedication to my clients as any other doula.
Lastly, just do it!! Don’t think about it, look into it, and ponder on it…do it! There is still such a huge percentage of woman who still don’t know what a doula is or does, or why their birth experience can be incredibly changed for the better by having a doula. This is not a competition. There is far more birthing woman than there are doulas. Let’s encourage and help one another grow – and grow the support in the birthing community!