How Do I Become A Doula?

By: Jennifer Cole | Doulas | December 17, 2020

I can still remember the day I decided to leave my 20+ year career in corporate real estate behind and become a birth doula. I knew I wanted to do something else with my life but wasn’t sure where my talents could be best utilized later in life. I had opened that question up the universe and the answer came when listening to a podcast in my car. A member of a late ‘80s alternative rock band was being interviewed; she’d taken a long hiatus from music and had become a doula in that period. She talked about her desire to be of service to others after having spent years on the road living a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle. It was in that moment that I realized that becoming a birth doula was my calling; soon thereafter I decided to take the first steps toward shifting gears to make it happen.

The first step for me was searching online and finding a 3-day workshop in my area that was offered by one of many doula organizations that exist nationally and internationally. Since Covid-19 these classes are primarily being offered virtually, but they’re still readily available. What’s great about an initial workshop such as the one I attended is that it paints a picture for you of what being a doula really means and provides an overview of the things you need to learn in order to get started. My workshop had a required book list that all attendees were expected to have read before the workshop started, covering the basics of childbirth and labor support, covering the generalities in advance allowed us time to get into more specifics in the workshop.

If you’re looking at doula work to become your full-time occupation and means of support, I would recommend you take additional classes that break down the nuts and bolts of going into business for yourself and the importance of working on yourself before getting started. I was fortunate to have had the Birth Education Center’s doula series available in my area; it was invaluable in assisting me with all the things I needed to know to run my own birth doula business. Fortunately it’s now available online bigger and better than before so no matter where you live you can attend and gain all the wisdom that’s vital for launching your business and techniques for being the best doula you can be. What was great about both the workshop and the BEC classes was being able to connect with other new doulas in my area. The birthing community is very communal and collaborative. It’s a sisterhood where everyone supports each other in the shared goal of helping birth givers and babies.

The one thing I was the most nervous about when becoming a doula was the prospect of charging for my services when the only births I’d attended were those of my own children and those of a good friend’s children where I wasn’t really hands on. The way I was able to bridge that gap was by volunteering as a doula first. The workshop I attended provided us information about volunteer doula programs at a couple of local hospitals, so for me this was the ideal segue that allowed me to gain experience as a doula before starting my business and charging money for my services.

If you’re feeling called to birth work, follow your gut and join us. Finding out what sort of training and volunteer possibilities in your area is only an online search away. Take the leap and see where it takes you. The birthing world is waiting for you with open arms!

About the author:
Jennifer Cole CD(DONA) DONA Certified Birth Doula and Hypnobabies Certified HypnoDoula supporting families throughout San Diego County.

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