Seem like a long time to wait?
“I don’t want to wait a few months! I want to take my doula training now!”
I understand how you feel, really I do. However, let me explain a few things. This feeling is based on the premise that the workshop is your first step on your doula journey. Actually, its not – the more prepared you are for the training, the more you will get out of it. The more you do beforehand, the more equipped you will be to start attending births after your face to face training. No one has ever felt they prepared too much! Even labor and delivery nurses and physicians with twenty years experience state they have gotten a lot out of my workshops.
People experience the workshop on different levels depending on where they are in their lives. They also have different backgrounds and areas of specialized knowledge. So knowing the best way for you to prepare is up to you! But here are fourteen suggestions:
1. Read the recommended books on our reading list as well as the required ones. This includes The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth or Optimal Care Iin Childbirth by Henci Goer and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.
2. Take my Introduction to Childbirth Class for Doulas. You can do this months before if it is offered.
3. Watch birth videos. I recommend: Pregnant In America; Orgasmic Birth; Gentle Birth Choices; Giving Birth; Trial of Labor; and Birth Into Being. Some of these are on Netflix, Amazon Instant Download, or your local library. The older videos have lengthy takes of real people in labor without music or voice over, which is hard to find in current films. There are also many birth videos on YouTube – my channel is AmyL Gilliland, see “Other Birth Videos”. My experience is not to bother unless it has a high number of views. If you find any good ones, please send me the URL!
4. If there is a local doula group in your area, go to their meetings. Do lots of listening (smile!). If there isn’t a group, locate any doulas in your area that seem open to connecting with you. Offer to take them out for coffee or lunch (you pay for it) and ask them about the general birth landscape in your area. Previewing what the challenges may be for you is very helpful to know before you come to the training. This person may be a source of referrals in the future so think ahead about how to make a good impression.
5. Go to La Leche League meetings or gatherings of new parents. Tell them you are training to be a doula. Sincerely listen to their birth and postpartum stories without judgment. Ask them what they liked about the kind of support they received and what they might have wanted to be different. Your emphasis should be on listening sensitively without trying to fix it or selling anyone on the idea of hiring you as a doula. Hanging out with new parents and watching how group leaders build their confidence can be really helpful!
6. Learn more about breastfeeding. Go to La Leche League or peer breastfeeding meetings, rent videos from your library or LLL chapter, and read one of the recommended books. For other good books and videos, see the LLL web site, www.lalecheleague.org for ideas. Take your 3-4 hour infant feeding class for certification now – why wait?
7. Take the online Postpartum for Professionals course now. (forthcoming Autumn 2021).
8. Visit these high quality doula web sites and start building your resource library for clients:
9. Start building your referral network in the geographic area where you intend to practice. It is important that you have the resources at your fingertips when you start. For example: Who does counseling for women with perinatal mood disorders and postpartum depression? How do you refer a mother to a lactation consultant? What are the choices in your area and how do women pay for them? Are they HMO affiliated, etc.? What about infant massage instructors and classes? WIC information and brochures? LLL meetings? What other parent support groups and resources are available? Is there a “Happiest Baby on the Block” educator in your area? (If not, find out more about this popular and helpful soothing method for infants.) Even if you don’t care for it, your clients will probably hear about it so it’s important to be educated. Is there an ICAN group in your area? If you can, attend a meeting and listen to these mothers. Who does placenta encapsulation? Belly binding after birth? Are there programs focused on specific ethnic groups? Knowing about these cultural resources can be really helpful as a doula.
10. Read some high quality doula blogs. My favorites:
- Doulaing The Doula – lots of essays on the emotional and spiritual part of being a doula
11. If you expect to open your own business, you can begin your marketing plan now. There’s plenty of free information on the web and in your local library that can help you focus. Who do you think your clients will be? What are three adjectives that describe you as a doula? Who would be your ideal client? All your materials should focus on attracting this person, but first you need to know who they are.
12. Start a timeline for your business plan. What will you do each month to get ready? Is your mileage log ready to go? How will you do your bookkeeping? What are other people charging? (check out www.doulamatch.com to see other’s posted fees and services.)
13. Is there a unique business name that you like? Check to see if it is already taken. You can brainstorm now. Visit other doula web sites. Look at their logos on Google Images. I’ll send you a four page packet about choosing a name during the training.
14. If you are asked to go to a birth, go! Be a friend who is supportive and don’t use the word “doula”. You might think you know how a doula would act, but you also may not – which can do a lot of damage to your doula community. Instead, focus on being encouraging, remind her and her partner/family member they can ask questions, and bring the Birth Partner book with you to look up positions and comfort measures. You don’t need to suggest anything, just follow the mom’s lead.
15. Lurk in open Facebook groups for doulas. Heart/Soul/Business, The Doula Group, DONA International, and Birth Professionals of the World are all good for doulas before they have had their training.
16. Register and pay for the doula training! Committing your money and your time creates the path for becoming a doula to happen in your life! It can’t happen if you don’t commit. (Read the financial policies first!)
Lastly, I want to tell you that Doulaing The Doula birth doula workshops are worth waiting for. I’m one of the best trainers available. No one has the qualifications, experience, or passion that I have for doulaing you into the best doula you can be. I’ve made a commitment to you and helping you develop into your best doula self!
If you are reading this and there are only a few weeks before your workshop, don’t panic! None of this is required nor does it mean that you will be unprepared or get less out of the training. You will want or need to do a lot of the things on this list anyway and it is perfectly fine to do them after you’ve taken your training.
I look forward to seeing you at your workshop!
This has been a wonderful experience to help me clarify my values and re-energize my confidence that I can do it.