How Do I Become a Doula?

Kerry Tuschhoff's picture
Experts: 

QUESTION

Hi Mary,
My name is Rachel, I am 34 and live in Seattle. I have recently decided that I would like to become a postpartum Doula. I have found the Seattle Midwifery school and the DONA website and through them have a fairly good understanding about what the certification process entails.

My next step is to get in contact with some practicing doulas and midwives to talk with them about their experiences and opinions. Other pertinent info is that I am currently pregnant with my second child (due 3/24/03) and plan to start the Doula training process a few months after my newest addition arrives. In other words, I have some time for investigation.

One hope is that I can find a few doulas who would be willing, if appropriate, to have me accompany them to their clients and spend a few hours to watch and listen -- much like a junior wait staff follows around and experienced waiter. So what is my question you ask? What advice can you give someone like myself?

Thank you in advance for your input.

All the best,
Rachel

ANSWER

Dear Rachel,
Thanks for your question. I apologize for not responding sooner. I had three births in ten days and I had to play catch-up with many things including sleep.

I am always so excited for women as they begin the journey of becoming a Doula. Seattle is a great area since Doulas of North America (DONA) was founded by Penny Simkin and was established in Seattle. The Seattle Midwifery School has a wonderful selection of training courses.

In Seattle there is the Pacific Association of Labor Support (PALS). PALS was also founded by Penny and will be a great resource for you. I Encourage you to contact PALS soon and maybe you will be able to find a Doula that would be willing to support you before and after the birth of your baby.

I don't have a current telephone number but I am sure the Seattle School of Midwifery will have it available for you. I also suggest that you contact Washington's State Rep for Doulas of North America Ginny potter at 360-896-2295 or e-mail here.

My advice is talk to as many people as you can and build yourself a Support system. The life of a Doula whether in the birth or postpartum role is one of constantly giving of your time and energy. Having a great support system, developing a partnership with someone in your area that shares your philosophies and also has small children is the way to go. You have to have someone available to back you up if an emergency occurs. As you continue your investigation and learn from the experienced doulas in your area you will build yourself a successful business.

Remember, building your business will take some time. I have tried every type of advertising available and the best form of promoting your business is by word of mouth. As you go out and begin to provide your service and your clients are satisfied they will tell their friends, family and even caregivers. This will increase your client base.

Build relationships with the lactation consultants and midwives. You Will learn a tremendous amount and gain referrals at the same time. Healthcare professionals are always happy to refer doulas that satisfy their clients' needs. Dependable and competent doulas are always a great resource. As you work in the field your relationships will grow and so will your business.

I wish you all the luck with your upcoming birth and your Doula journey.

In the Doula spirit,
Mary,

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