A doula is someone trained to provide comfort and support to families during the birth of their baby.
Unlike other healthcare professionals who provide clinical care for pregnant people, doulas have specific training on how to comfort a laboring person both physically and emotionally. This special training is not part of the modern medical school or nursing school curriculum. It’s hard to believe this is not a required course for doctors, nurses, or midwives! This is what makes doulas so special (and so needed).
Doulas pursue on-going, specific training in a variety of comfort measures utilizing birth-related tools and updated newborn care practices including breastfeeding support. A doula works with families during pregnancy, helps them during labor and birth, and provides the new parents with guidance and an extra set of hands during the first few days or weeks at home with a new baby.
Here are four more things you might not know about becoming a doula:
1) Being a Doula is a Rewarding, Specialized Career
Doula work is a rewarding career. This type of specialty has numerous benefits and is making great improvements to the health of mothers and babies. The United States has one of the worst maternity care systems in the developed world and is the only country with a RISING maternal mortality rate. What does that mean? It means mothers giving birth in America are dying at higher rates than other countries. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Doulas significantly improve this outcome. Research strongly suggests that having a doula present at a birth lowers the risks for both mothers and babies so significantly that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends using doulas for ALL births. Doulas make a difference.
Being a doula is an extremely rewarding career. It’s one of the few jobs where your performance review sounds something like, “Thank you so much for everything – I could never have done this without you” followed by a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek from your glowing, teary-eyed client (AKA your boss). It’s a career that continues to build and grow.
Plus, who doesn’t want to witness the birth of a baby?
2) No College (or big college bills!) Required
With all that impact, a doula is an important person who must have a tremendous amount of skill and education, right? Well, yes and no. A doula is HIGHLY skilled, and most doulas enjoy learning new information throughout their career. A doulas biggest skill set comes from the heart and the hands. But a doula does NOT:
3) A Career that Fits your Current Lifestyle Needs
A doula can earn a substantial part-time income or choose to have a thriving full-time job at their own discretion. Some doulas are busy raising their own children full-time and just want something fulfilling that provides a few extra dollars to the family income. Other doulas have built their business on a larger scale, employing an entire team of doulas. There are doulas who work from a small desk in a corner of their home and others who own classrooms and professional offices. I have doula colleagues who attend a birth every now and then as their schedules allow, and others who have a full schedule of clients, speak at various conferences or teach in the university setting. That’s the thing about being a doula – it can be WHATEVER YOU WANT, HOWEVER YOU WANT IT.
4) Small Investment. Big Return.
There are few careers where you can invest less than $1500 and have everything you need to begin working. Doula work is one of them. Maybe $1500 seems like a lot of money to you at this point your life, but this is an achievable amount when planned for and broken up into smaller increments. Birthday gift donations, yard sales proceeds, a few small jobs, and extra change all add up. It’s not as much as it sounds if you take small steps and save up slowly. Unlike students who emerge from college many thousands of dollars in debt, doulas begin practicing DEBT FREE. Money earned is simply income – no school loans to pay back! In most cases, new doulas will have earned back the initial investment within two or three clients.
Who Can Become a Doula?
YOU. You can become a doula. You can become a doula RIGHT NOW. Do you have a heart for taking care of people? Do you want to be the comforting voice when someone is at their most vulnerable moment? Would you like to mother the new mother? Do you want to be present when a brand-new human being takes their first breath? No matter what you know about birth at this point, YOU can become a doula. I wish someone would have told me those words when I was busy looking for a satisfying career that fit into my life as a mother of young children.
If you’ve read this far, then it’s quite possible something about this career is calling to you.
I attended a conference a few months ago where the presenter was discussing how healthcare providers are often “called” to this work and he proposed the question, “what happens if they don’t answer the call?”.
Well, what happens if YOU don’t answer YOUR call? Who will care for the families that have called for YOU?