Have you ever been fascinated and wondered about becoming a doula? If your answer is yes, then this one’s perfect for you as we are going to share with you essential information one needs to know to become a doula.
Pregnancy specifically childbirth is a life-changing moment. Needless to say, for most women, it’s something that excites at the same time scares them.
As women, we know how horrifying childbirth can be especially thinking about the possible complications one could have during the process.
But guess what? All these feelings can actually be managed, and women can actually go through a calm and secured birthing process provided they have the right information, and the right people alongside them all throughout.
Now, this is where doulas enter into the picture —
Generally, a doula is someone who serves as a companion and is someone who is skilled to support a birthing woman during labor and birth. They are trained to provide birthing women continuous, one-on-one care, at the same time, provide information, physical as well as emotional support to both the birthing mom and her partner.
There are a lot of studies that have shown the significant impact of having a doula around, and we bet you will be surprised to know about this – especially if you are a mom who’s gone through pregnancy and birthing without having a doula by your side.
According to the Evidence Based Birth, studies have shown that overall, women who have continues support during childbirth experience: 25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease) and that 8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase).
Meanwhile, in a study published in the US National Library Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, it says that:
“Expectant mothers matched with a doula had better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight (LBW) baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Communication with and encouragement from a doula throughout the pregnancy may have increased the mother’s self-efficacy regarding her ability to impact her own pregnancy outcomes.”
Reports and studies such as these only prove that women can actually have better pregnancy and birthing experience only if they’ve got the right support system — not just their husbands/partners and other family members or friends, but people who are knowledgeable and skilled like doulas.
Working as a doula is very fulfilling, and if you are thinking of becoming one, good thing you’re here. As mentioned earlier, today, we are going to provide you with essential information on how to become a doula.
We are going to particularly tackle the following:
- What is a doula?
- What are the different kinds of a doula?
- Who qualifies to become a doula?
- How much does a doula make?
- How to become a doula?
WHAT IS A DOULA?
Earlier, we already shared with a brief background on what a doula is. This time around, we’ll dig deeper into this type of profession.
So, what really is a doula?
According to DONA International, which is the world’s first, largest, and leading doula certifying organization, a doula is defined as:
“a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
Some people confuse doulas to midwives. Here’s the thing, unlike midwives, doulas have no medical training. However, their experience and support can make a significant positive difference not just in a new mom but even in a new dad’s life.
Working as a doula is very rewarding. But similar to other types of professions, it has its share of downfalls like long hours spent at births, and also the fact that you have to be on-call anytime your client needs you.
While some doulas may get into this job to make a living (although to be frank, it’s not as rewarding financially), in general, most doulas work as a doula out of passion. A lot of doulas are passionate about sharing information and helping birthing families especially women.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about what a doula is all about, you got to check this very informative video by Netflix:
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF A DOULA?
So, you want to become a doula, but what particular kind of doula?
Not a lot of people know that there are actually different types of doulas out there. If you are looking into working as one, it is important that you know what these are so you get to choose what to focus on. At the same time, this gives you clarity and direction in terms of the services you offer.
Here are some of the different kinds of doulas you will find out there:
- Birth Doula – As a birth doula, your job is to accompany the birthing couple during the labor and birth of their baby. As a birth doula, you have to be on-call as no one knows really when a baby wants to come out, right?
- Antepartum Doula – As an antepartum doula, your role is to educate and provide support during the pregnancy up to the birth of the baby. Unlike a birth doula who assists couples during birth, an antepartum doula support incoming parents during the prenatal period.
- Postpartum Doula – Your job as a postpartum doula is obviously to provide support in the homes after the baby comes out. This may include but not limited to helping during late nights with the new baby, as well as cleaning and cooking for the new parents, and many more.
- Surrogate and Adoption Doula – A surrogate and adoption doula helps the couple and the birthing family during the emotional journey of surrogate pregnancy or adoption.
- Bereavement Doula – As the name implies, a bereavement doula’s role is to support families who experienced an unexpected loss of a child. They are usually providing support to parents who suffered miscarriage, stillbirth, or when the parents are expecting their baby to not survive. Of all the doula roles, this is probably the hardest, and the most emotionally challenging.
- Sibling Doula – A sibling doula specializes in providing support to the birthing couple’s child or children — including them and supporting them during the birth of their sibling.
As you can see, there are a few different doula roles. Although, of all in this list, the most common of all, and probably the one with most people who practice it is a birth doula.
WHO QUALIFIES TO BECOME A DOULA?
In this section, we are going to provide you information about what does it takes to become a doula.
If you are eyeing to become, we recommend you go over this section, and as you do, you also go through a self-assessment. We thought that it is important for an aspiring doula to really know what it takes to be called one.
Generally speaking, doulas are not required to obtain any licenses to be able to practice the profession. However, for credibility’s sake, you may opt to become certified by organizations like DONA International or CAPPA Worldwide.
When getting certified, it is important to check the requirements depending on the kind of doula role you want to practice. In particular, becoming a certified birth or postpartum doula requires certain educational and experience requirements.
Also, it is important to note that these organizations have their respective requirements in terms of completing approved workshops. So, if you are interested, you better check with the organizations what their requirements are to be sure. Please note also that the workshops provided can be completed either in person or online.
Another important thing to take into account is that all aspiring doulas must obtain a certification in infant and adult CPR. In addition, they also need to submit letters of recommendation from health care providers and/or certified doulas.
Additionally, doulas also need to compile a list of resources in various categories of support like mental health professionals and lactation consultants.
To be fully certified, apart from completing their training, aspiring certified doulas also need to provide qualifying support to at least three mothers or families. Please note that organizations have their respective definitions for qualifying support.
Meanwhile, postpartum doulas aiming for certification do also need to meet certain requirements — again — depending on the certifying organization.
HOW MUCH DOES A DOULA MAKE?
Hopefully, the information we share already has not overwhelmed you yet, because really, to become a doula is to be able to help birthing parents especially mommas have the best birthing experience — and that alone is very rewarding.
With everything you learned so far, we bet by now you are already wondering how much a doula makes.
As we have said earlier, how much a doula make may not be as rewarding as other professions, but it certainly can help your monthly budget especially if you have lots of clients.
Surely, you will have to spend a little to learn more about the job as well as to get certified, but you can definitely easily make back the money you spent once you’re out there doing your thing.
How much you earn depends on the kind of doula role you play. For instance, a birth doula makes an average of $600 to $1,200 per birth client while a postpartum doula makes between $2,000 and $6,000 per client.
When working as a birth doula though, you have to take into account that you are on-call, which means you have to limit the number of clients you attend to in a month to ensure you get to cater to their needs individually. Meanwhile, postpartum doulas have more flexibility in terms of time availability.
HOW TO BECOME A DOULA?
So, you already know what a doula is, the different roles of a doula, the qualifications, as well as how much doulas earn.
This time, we are going to share with you the most important information of all – how to actually become a doula.
In this section, we are going to provide you with a step-by-step guide in fulfilling your dream of becoming a doula. The steps include:
- STEP 1: Assess yourself.
- STEP 2: Decide on the kind of doula you would like to be.
- STEP 3: Train to become a doula.
- STEP 4: Get certified.
- STEP 5: Start changing lives.
Now, let’s dig deeper into each step –
STEP 1: Assess yourself.
To be honest, working as a doula is not an easy thing. Imagine the load that you need to carry for your clients. Apart from the skills, being a doula takes a lot of courage and strength. Remember, as a doula, your clients will greatly depend on your help – especially when it’s their first time.
So, to begin with, make sure to sit, think about it, and assess yourself.
To help you with, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I a great listener?
- Do I love babies and mommies?
- Am I caring and nurturing enough to care and nurture parents and babies?
- Am I focused and calm or do I easily panic?
- Am I respectful and not judgmental of others?
- Do I have the right attitude working alongside medical professionals?
- Am I willing to be on-call for my clients?
- Do I have money to spend on training and certifications?
- Am I willing to learn?
- Do I have the passion to make a positive change in someone’s life?
Generally speaking, a doula has to be – as we mentioned – courageous and strong, but at the same time, gentle and nurturing. Furthermore, you cannot be a doula if you lack empathy.
Remember that as a doula, you are playing a very important role to make the pregnancy and/or birthing experience the best it could possibly be.
STEP 2: Decide on the kind of doula you would like to be.
Earlier, we shared with you the different kinds of doula roles. Although above all the options we listed, birth doula and postpartum doula are the most common ones.
If you are eyeing to become a doula, and as you assess yourself, it should be clear to you the kind of doula role you want to play. That way, it’s easier for you to look for appropriate training and certification.
When deciding on the kind of doula you would like to be, we highly recommend you stick to your strengths. If you think you are more skilled and knowledgeable to become a birth doula, then be a birth doula. If you think you have what it takes to be a postpartum doula, then pursue that route.
Always think about the best service you can offer. Once you have determined that – the next steps will be easier.
STEP 3: Train to become a doula.
Once you have already decided on the kind of doula you want to be, then, it’s time to accumulate all the knowledge you can possibly have to be able to be the best doula in the field you’ve chosen.
If we may say, this step will actually help you achieve the fourth step, which is being certified.
Anyway, the doula training industry is actually well-established across many parts of the world, which means there are many course providers to choose from. When choosing a training, make sure to consider that it is aligned to your values and that the training meets the requirements in your state or in your area.
What’s nice about the doula training though is that most of them are online, which means you can finish the training without having to worry about leaving the house. Also, you can finish it at your own pace so need to rush. For most courses, they can be finished for up to a year.
It is important to take note though that as part of your doula training, you will receive reading materials, and may be asked to attend several births. You may also have to write reports and assignments, attend pre and postnatal classes, as well as complete an examination.
As a doula, you have to keep it in mind that your role is never about giving medical advice or medical examinations. Leave that to the experts.
As part of the training course, you will also undergo criminal background checks, submit professional and personal references, and work with children clearances. Additionally, you will also have to work on becoming certified in CPR and first aid.
For the whole training course, how much it costs depends on the institution that provides the training course plus the kind of doula you want to be, and how extensive the course is. However, to give you an idea, the fee usually runs from $1,000 up to $4,000.
STEP 4: Get certified.
To be a credible and reputable doula, you have to work on getting certified by any of the major certifying organizations out there.
As mentioned earlier, part of the certification process is the training, which we already discussed earlier on how to go about that.
Now, here’s where you can get your doula certification from:
- DONA International
- Childbirth and Postpartum Association (CAPPA)
- International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
- toLabor (The Organization of Labor Assistants for Options & Resources; formerly ALACE)
Between all these four though, DONA International and CAPPA are the most sought-after certifications that doulas aim for.
STEP 5: Start changing lives.
Once you have accomplished steps one to four, it’s time to put yourself out there and start changing lives.
There are a lot of ways to touch-based with clients. Initially, you can offer your services to people you know, and from there, slowly step up the ladder of success ‘til you get as many clients as you can.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO BECOME A DOULA
So, there you have it! As you can see, becoming a doula is a rewarding job – especially when you are passionate about changing people’s lives.
With all that’s been said, what are your thoughts so far? Are you ready to become a doula?