Becoming a doula

So you’re thinking of training to become a doula?

Becoming a doula can be a fulfilling and exciting journey and a great opportunity for personal development and learning. We hope that you meet lots of wonderful people along the way and enjoy developing your doula skills.

My own journey began at the birth of my friend’s son. Through this experience I began to realise the potential of loving support.” Suzanne, birth and postnatal doula

We feel it’s often helpful to make clear that becoming a doula is a journey of growth and development. Completing a course is just your first step on this journey; because it’s only by working with clients, talking with your Mentor/Doula Companion, meeting other doulas at study events and other meetings, both local and national, that we all continue to learn and develop our practice. See the Developing Doulas 7Cs for our guiding principles.

What Doulas Do

Doulas build a close relationship with their clients and provide continuous emotional and practical support, without making assumptions. In order to work in this way you need excellent listening skills and the time to debrief experiences around birth, be they your own or those of a professional nature.

There will be opportunities to begin this process on your course.

The realities of life as a new doula

Getting Started

We heartily recommend gathering your support network as a new doula, just as you will be encouraging your clients to gather theirs. Getting some Doula UK mentoring or a Developing Doulas Companion will ensure that you have some special doulas in your life; doulas who are experienced and can support you to reflect and learn from all your doula adventures!

Impact on your Life

Many doulas also find that without the complete support of their families, starting out can be hard. At first, jobs may be scarce and money tight. If you are working as a birth doula, your family also need to understand the unpredictable nature of the work – that you may need to disappear at fairly short notice; that you can’t say how long you will be gone and that you need to feel happy that they will cope in your absence, so you can focus 100% on your client. If you have small children, it is essential to have reliable, immediate childcare in place for when you are called to a birth.

Even with some experience under your belt, most doulas do not make a huge income. Becoming a doula is a vocation and many of us could make much more money using skills learnt in our past lives!

The work we do has value – to the families we serve and to society at large, but we still live in a culture that unvalues care work. You will be independent and self employed so you will be free to set your own fees.

Getting the Word Out

Most doulas would say that finding clients is a case of ‘what you put in is what you get out’. Marketing yourself in your local area, for example by networking and building relationships with other birthworkers, will pay dividends and we recommend that you glean as much information as you can about this aspect of your business on your preparation course, and ask your Mentor or Companion for guidance afterwards, if you feel you need it.

The most important relationship for me was with my Mentor.  We instantly clicked and I discovered that having a mentor, in my own experience, was an opportunity to assess myself, my choices, commitment, and sometimes fears. Like a doula’s doula, she stayed with me, helped me to discover my hidden strengths, face my fears and trust my instincts, she cared, and was there for me and that was very important. She didn’t tell me what to do; she shared information and gave me the space to find my own answers, which helped me to grow.”

Most of us would agree that being a doula is a privilege and we gain immense satisfaction from working with our clients. We do hope that you, too, find fulfilment in your new role as a doula.

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