After years of wishing, dreaming, and a few excuses, I’m finally a certified Doula! It feels so good to say that. I’ve run scenarios in my head where I meet someone new and they ask me what I do for work. “I’m a Doula!”, I will proudly exclaim. Then they will cheer, put me up on their shoulders, and march me up and down the streets yelling, “She’s a Doula, she’s a Doula! Hooray for the Doula!” Okay, so most likely that won’t happen. They will probably ask me what that is and how it’s different from a midwife. But that’s a whole different post. For now I want to tell you the top 5 things I learned while at Doula training this past weekend in Austin, Texas. (Btw, shout out to Austin for having a ton of delicious vegetarian options and the CUTEST town ever.)
1. Being a Doula is not about you.
What I mean is it’s not about the Doula. If you’re the one having a baby, it’s totally about you. I had always thought about how fulfilling it would be when I’m with a woman bringing a baby into the world. I think about the adrenaline and the high that comes with witnessing a birth and seeing the strength and power that comes with it. But I quickly realized that what I am feeling isn’t what’s important. While there is a high that comes with being with a woman in her birth space, it’s just that. HER birth space. I’m there to fill that space with her, support her, and help bring out the power that’s already hers. She does all the work. She feels the pain, vulnerability, and relief when her baby is finally in her arms.
2. Stop saying, “Being a Doula is rewarding enough, I don’t need to get paid.”
Really? Birth work is HARD, ya’ll. Taking the time to market yourself, build a business, find clients, build relationships, prepare for her birth the way she wants it, and THEN to spend countless hours with her while she gives birth is A LOT. I mean, yeah, it’s totally rewarding. But um…mama’s gotta make that cash too. It’s not wrong to charge what you’re worth. The hours stack up. You have to grab sleep when you can during those on-call weeks. The time spent away from my family is a big deal too. So, don’t sell yourself short. Charge what you know you’re worth, and OWN IT.
3. Doulas can change the world.
Doulas don’t just support a woman during child birth. We are out there fighting the patriarchy! You say a woman can’t have a VBAC? Tell me why. Tell me women of color are not valued and cared for the same as white women in birth? Fight me! (Just kidding, violence isn’t the answer.) There are so many things associated with birth work and women’s rights out there that I could (and probably will) write a whole other post on it. The point is that we have power. We can be out there fighting for policy change. We can demand better postpartum care for women. We can help the women we serve to recognize their voice and use it. Then they will teach their children about the voice they have and how to use it effectively. The influence carries.
NOTE: Doulas are NOT advocates. But we can still work in our communities to facilitate conversations.
4. Never stop learning.
No matter how long you’ve been in birth work, there’s always something new to learn. I myself am a birth nerd. I have been since I started having babies. There’s always a new book to read, a new class to attend, a seminar to participate in, a training to go to, etc. Know your stuff.
5. There is no other training out there like BEST.
There isn’t. The creators of Best Doula Training, Amanda Devereux and Maria Pokluda personally train every Doula that comes through their organization. They want to be able to put faces to names. They want to build a community of Doulas that are there to support and lean on each other. I even got to stay in a house with them this weekend where I was able to pick their brains and ask a million questions, and I even got a name for my business AND a logo. People pay big bucks for mentoring that I got while sitting on a couch in my jammies with them. Something else that just made my heart SOAR was the depth that the training went to. We talked about building a sustainable business, how to support a woman in every way she can birth, how to support more black women in birth work, how to kick the patriarchy in the pants, the importance of empathy, interviewing skills, community involvement and advocacy, and the reality of racism. And those were just my favorite parts! The variety of topics was amazing and I was eating up every word. Then the girls that I certified with feel like sisters now! We only spent 3 days together, but it felts like months! We all just got to learn together, cry together, laugh our butts off together, and stuff our faces together.(Seriously, Austin. YOUR FOOD! *drool*) It was just the most amazing 3 days of sisterhood, love, and birth nerdiness. Best knows how to do this right.
So if you’re interested in becoming a Doula, please consider BEST. The lessons I learned at training will sustain me through my career as a Doula. I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend at training! Now get to the Best website and change the world!