So, You Want to be a Doula?
The most common question I get in my inbox is "How do I become a doula?" Everyone can Google "doula education program" or "how to become a doula," so in this blog article I'll give you the rundown on what it takes to become a Doula in practical terms. I can tell you what steps to take, what I have done, and what mistakes I made, but that might not apply to your personality and situation. So let's get started with some introspective questions...
What education do you desire?
The first step in becoming a Doula is taking a training through a creditable certification organization. There is currently no legal requirement for Doulas to be trained and certified, but it is valuable skill building experience and adds to your knowledge and credibility. You may want to consider what population you serve, what locations you’ll be attending births at, and what skills your ideal client may find most valuable. There are many options available!
Birth Behind Bars (nonprofit training for serving prison inmates)
StillBirthday (bereavement training)
Holding Space (bereavement trainings)
So, how do you choose?
With so many options and no accreditation for Doula programs, you'll need to look at all the facets of the organization and the training in deciding what is the right fit for you.
The things I recommend you research about your training:
⦁ Details of what their training program includes
⦁ Qualifications of your trainer, including testimonials from past students
⦁ Number of births required to attend and rules on such births (Do cesarean births count towards your number? Do you have to provide labor support for a certain number of hours? Do you need doctor evaluation forms, nurse evaluation forms?)
⦁ Additional requirements for certification, such as breastfeeding education, attending a childbirth education class as an observer, continuing education, etc
⦁ In person training or e-learning options
⦁ Upfront cost for the training
⦁ Certification fees, membership costs, any costs for certification application, etc (Does the certificate expire?)
⦁ Mentorship as a pre-certified and certified Doula
⦁ Do they offer additional add on services, or sustainability information such as business trainings?
⦁ Future Career Possibilities- Could you work as an ambassador? Could you become a Doula trainer? Are they supportive of agencies? Nonprofit work?
What resonates with you?
I also ask people to look into the websites of different Doulas and agencies who certified through different organizations. Look for similarities and differences. Try to imagine yourself as a Doula, and look for things in common with what you want to be in these websites.
If there are local Doulas in your area, contact them and ask to chat over coffee. If you don't know how to find Doulas in your area, start here. In the beginning this was intimidating to me, but I learned a lot about different birth professionals in my area and now I love to network and share experiences.
Another researching option is to join Facebook groups for the different organizations, and read through the threads for a few weeks. It's surprising how passionate they all are on varying issues. Because of that, it's easy to find what resonates with you and what doesn't. Look specifically for beginner Doulas asking questions to see how easy it is to find support as a newcomer.
There is so much more to becoming a Doula than the practical skills and knowledge. This career requires patience, empathy, understanding, and the ability to place others' thoughts, feelings, and values above your own. If you have questions, concerns, or want to chat about the difficulties you're facing, you will need a mentor or group to relate to, to vent, to find reassurance and solidarity.
Hopefully these ideas will give you a direction to go in, my closing advice is to take your time and look at all your options. While I initially trained with DONA International, in the end I chose Birth Arts International. They offer a stellar e-learning package with a one time fee, no hidden costs, and fantastic mentorship. I love their mission, the Doulas who work through them, and the CEO Demetria Clark is an absolute inspiration. I found my tribe, and I encourage you to put in the time to find yours.