To succeed at any goal (becoming a doula, having a positive birth experience, learning how to breastfeed, feeling like a competent parent) requires that we travel a winding and sometimes unnerving pathway. Never give up!
I love being a birth doula. It is truly my calling. Just last month I celebrated the beginning of my eighth year as a doula.
I've established and re-established my business three times because of moves for my husband's work.
I've met and worked with and served many amazing people.
It still excites and scares me every time I get called to a birth because of the responsibility I have to meet my obligations to that family, to help them reach their goals, to help them make in-the-moment choices, to help them process and adapt to minor and major changes in their birth plans, all of this and more, and all for an indeterminate amount of time away from the rest of life.
I have had doula mentors that have helped to guide me, both emotionally through this journey and educationally on how to set boundaries and to have a financially successful business.
I'm finally seeing a consistent profit each year, so my family isn't feeling the financial burden of all of my doula trainings, certifications, re-certifications, yearly renewal fees, supplies purchased, traveling, continuing education, etc.
It is also extremely hard...
It is hard on me mentally, physically, emotionally, and it is hard on my family. I've missed holidays and birthdays and family gatherings, I've had to leave sick kids when all I really wanted to do was to cuddle my own babies, and I've been taken advantage by a few clients (there is a balance that I better understand now between bleeding heart and bankrupt).
I am on call 50 out of the 52 weeks of the year (i.e. my phone is always with me, I often take my own car to events that are more than 30 minutes from my home in case I get called to a birth, I have childcare scheduled, I have back up childcare scheduled, and much more).
Still, this is what I am meant to be doing.
Make sure that as you begin this journey you connect with other doulas in your community and talk with them about the amazing things about being a doula, and the very stressful things about being a doula. Figuring out who to train and certify with is the easy part. Keeping your family going, not spending infinitely more through this process than you will wind up making (which is going to be the case anyway for the first year or so; it's just like starting any other business), not burning out only a few years later, and not losing a marriage in the process are all important touch points to continually be assessing.
Ultimately, your service to other families must not come at the expense of your own family (and it will in certain ways by default, as mentioned above) but they need to be prepared for the journey as much as you will be preparing!
Some certifying organizations you can Google (and yes, I am a firm believer that certifying as a doula is an important part of taking your profession seriously and asking others to do the same) ...
DONA - http://www.dona.org
toLabor - http://www.tolabor.com
CAPPA - http://www.cappa.net
Birth Arts International - http://www.birtharts.com
ProDoula - http://www.ProDoula.com
Childbirth International - http://www.childbirthinternational.com/courses/birth_doula.php
And for additional training, especially helpful to a new doula but also valuable to seasoned doulas, 100% Doula.
Be humble, be warm, be generous, be thankful, be smart, be willing to work really hard, have boundaries, take good care of yourself, and develop a network of support.
Know that this service will never make you rich, but neither do you need to be poor.
You can do this, but it will take sacrifice in ways you might not be anticipating, and it will provide rewards you have to experience to fully appreciate.
Welcome! My name is Katherine Stanglin. I am a mother, a birth doula, childbirth educator, placenta specialist, birth advocate, and all around birth geek. This blog is dedicated to all of my birth ideas and musings. Enjoy!