The term doula is becoming more and more popular, as people discover the amazing benefits of including a doula in their labor and birth preparation plans. Doulas have been proven to lower medical interventions (like Pitocin and epidurals), reduce the number of cesareans and leave new parents feeling more satisfied with their birthing experience. As more and more pregnant couples are hiring doulas, the demand for new doulas is increasing- and in a vibrant and diverse city like San Diego, there is plenty of need for this type of birthing coach.
What does a doula do?
A doula is specifically there for the birthing parents alone. She helps them discover what their birthing needs and wishes are and offers continuous support throughout their pregnancy, labor and into the postpartum period. Her role includes meeting with the birthing parents ahead of time to discuss what their laboring preferences are and provide basic education and resources. She then joins them in labor to advocate from their wishes and provide physical support to help manage the work of labor. The birth doula helps with breastfeeding immediately following birth and follows up with the new family postpartum to ensure they are managing best they can and have the appropriate resources to navigate breastfeeding and newborn care.
Think that you might be cut out for this work? Follow My San Diego Doula’s recommendations for becoming a doula:
Consideration # 1: Consider the demands of the job. Do you have a lifestyle that will support you being on-call? This means being available by phone 24/7 and being able to leave for a birth quickly at any point in your day. If you have another job, consider how flexible it is to accommodate last-minute changes. If you have children, consider how they will be cared for on a last-minute basis and for sometimes very long periods of time at once. Most of the time, your birth clients will give you a heads up that labor has begun but sometimes they will need your assistance as quickly as possible. Sometimes babies are born quickly from start to finish, but I wouldn’t be the first doula to share a 3 day marathon birth story. Sometimes birth just takes a long time. Can you step away from your life at a moment’s notice and for potentially a long period of time?
Consideration # 2: Are you capable of running your own business? Doulas are independent business women. This means you are responsible for marketing yourself, creating your own paperwork (contract, educational handouts, etc) and running your own bookkeeping. There is a lot to be learned from doulas who have come before you, so networking is an excellent way to gain more tips but also essential for your ability to feel a part of the birthing community. Every doula also should have reliable backup for her clients. If you can’t make a birth due to an unforeseen emergency, or perhaps you need a quick nap after working hard with your clients for 2 days straight, your clients will need stand-in support for their special day. You will have to meet some local doulas and build relationships with them to have access to reliable backup help.
Consideration # 3: Are you able to remaining neutral in times of decision making for others? Can you check your bias at the door? Your clients will be faced with making many, many decisions during their labor and birth. A doula should remain neutral in supporting them regardless of what her own personal opinions and emotions are. This means providing evidence based information and presenting it in a way that the expecting parents can make their own decision. It may mean they are choosing an induction that you feel is not necessary, or opting for the epidural when you feel that natural childbirth is best. You are specifically expected to provide neutral information and then wholly support the parents in their choices. That can be hard even for a seasoned doula to do!
Still want to be a doula? Here's how to become one in San Diego:
Think after reading our list of 3 things to consider before becoming a doula in San Diego that you have what it takes? If you have a passion for providing labor support to pregnant women and helping bring their sweet babes into the world in a happier, calmer and more supported way, becoming a doula may be your next career move! Want to know more? Email Tiffany: firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the upcoming doula training in San Diego. My San Diego Doula hosts doula trainings regularly throughout the year. Learn more here!