If you’re caring, patient, nurturing, kind (but assertive) and love supporting other people then a career as a self-employed doula could be right up your street.
Doulas provide women with emotional and physical support and guidance before, during and after childbirth and also act as an advocate for the mother; pointing her towards the information she may need to make a balanced decision and then supporting her to communicate those decisions to the people and medical professionals around her.
You’ll be providing continuity of care, ensuring that your mother-to-be has access to a friendly, knowledgeable face during her pregnancy, birth and as she takes her first steps as a new mother.
During pregnancy you’ll use your experience to help answer questions, and listen with a non-judgemental ear, whilst your client shares any worries or concerns.
Where there is an important decision to be made (e.g. ‘Where should I give birth?’ or ‘Do I really need a planned cesarean birth.”) you’ll help to explain all the options to your client, along with the pros and cons of each. Your job is to guide, nurture and support. But never to judge or push a mother towards something she doesn’t feel comfortable with.
You’ll also be there for the mother-to-be throughout her labour and birth, providing physical, emotional and mental support.
It’s important to note that although some doulas are medically qualified – ex midwives for example – you do not have to hold a medical qualification to be a doula. This means that this rewarding career is open to women from all walks of life and can be pursued at the right time for you.
“The most important attribute for women who want to be a doula is a genuine passion for birth and how they can help make it best possible experience for new mums, dads and their babies.” Sophie/Florence
Training to be a doula
Wondering whether a career as a doula might be for you? The best place to start is by talking to other doulas or birthing professionals in your area. Not only will this give you an idea of the day-to-day role of a doula, but you’ll also be able to gague potential demand in your area.
Once you’ve confirmed your desire to be a doula your next step is to attend a Doula Preparation Course. Doula training usually takes place over a few days with ongoing coursework and recorded experience taking place after.
There are lots of doula preparation courses to choose from, so it’s important that you ask questions to ensure the one you choose is right for you. In the video below Sophie talks about the important questions to ask before you book a doula course.
As a minimum requirement your course should be approved by Doula UK, which is the membership association of birth and postnatal doulas in the UK, Republic of Ireland, and Channel Islands.
Look for this symbol…
Nurturing Birth are proud members of Doula UK and all our doula preparation courses are Doula UK Approved. We’re also part of the European Doula Network.
Doula Preparation Courses – What will you learn?
Each training provider has their own way of teaching the doula preparation course, but you can expect to learn about…
- The role of a birth and postnatal doula.
- What clients expect from a doula.
- Supporting mums and partners in understanding their rights around birthing.
- Infant feeding.
- Common issues that can affect new mothers and babies.
- How to best support new families.
- Mentoring, further training and CPD.
- Running your own doula business.
After your course there is a period of home study to really cement your learning and of course we advise all our doulas to get out there and gain as much real-world experience as possible.
Following their doula preparation course many doulas choose to join a mentoring program so that they have regular support and a safe place to ask for advice and guidance when they’re just starting out. Again, there are a few mentoring programs to choose from, including our own, so do your research to ensure that the program and the mentor you’ll be working with are a good fit for you.
Daily Life as a Doula
As a working doula, it’s very likely that you’ll be self-employed and will offer services to parents-to-be and families in your local area. Of course this brings its own set of challenges which we’ll cover in more detail in a future post, but as a starting point you’ll need to…
- Register as self-employed with HMRC
- Ensure you have the required insurance policies in place
- Get to know and network with other birth professionals in your area
- Market your doula services to people in your local area – this might mean creating a website and setting up social media profiles to help promote you. You might also want to consider joining the Nurturing Birth Directory.
Welcome to life a doula! You’re at the start of an amazing journey, enjoy it!
Ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a doula? Why not find out more about Nurturing Births forthcoming Doula Preparation Courses here.