A few months ago, during a college visitation with my son, an admissions counselor asked the audience “how many parents here are currently working in the field in which they trained for out of high school?”. Less than a quarter of the audience raised their hand. He laughed, and reassured the incoming freshmen students that it was perfectly normal to not have the rest of their professional lives figured out by age 18. The limited show of hands was his proof.
Perhaps by age 18 we have not had enough life experiences to know which professional path to take? This is particularly true of a career in childbirth. Many (but not all) childbirth professionals come to this career because of their own experiences. Somewhere along their prenatal journey, parents discover ways that could improve this memorable life experience and become eager to share their knowledge with others. The desire to learn and share grows deeper, and before long, a new career is born. Literally.
A career in childbirth does not always require a college degree, and most people who want to begin this new career can often do so with no pre-requisites or higher-level educational background. This means ANYONE who has an interest in working with childbearing families (particularly as a doula or childbirth educator) will have the ability to begin an affordable, rewarding, professional career. The training involved to become a birth doula, postpartum doula, or a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator through Family Trees Birth Programs is very manageable, affordable, and extremely rewarding.
It is a career that is open to anyone – new high school graduates, the stay-at-home-mom who needs a flexible schedule, the newly retired, or like me, the mid-life person who finally listened to my calling after a 15-year career in another field. Yes, it was scary to take a chance on changing careers when I was nearly 40 years old, but I quickly found myself speaking at an international conference, having dinner with residents at a hospital, and being invited to hospital childbirth classes. In a few short years, I was participating in research and guest lecturing at large universities. I’ve witnessed so many women become mothers, and heard the words, “thank you – I couldn’t have done it without you” more times than I can count. That’s quite a performance review. This career path was available to me after a weekend-long training, some self-study, and my own determination.
The minimal financial investment for involved in a childbirth training program pales in comparison to college tuition. Of course, on-going training and attendance at conferences should also be considered when looking at the overall costs, but these fees can be paid for through your business expenses.
That’s right, YOUR business. Not only is this a professional career, it’s also an opportunity to own your own company; be your own boss. You set your own hours and your own pay rate. You grow the size of YOUR business at your own pace.
But the best part of all? You will make a difference in the world, one family at a time.
Wendy Trees Shiffer, MS, FACCE, LCCE is a mother and maternal-fetal health educator. She is the founder and program director for Family Trees Birth Programs serving childbirth professionals and new parents.