This week I’m celebrating World Doula Week and sharing suggestions I give doulas at my trainings.
- Find your niche. No one can be all things to all people. What families are you best at serving? Do you have a passion for working with single or teen moms, moms who are VBACing or working with a midwife, moms who are having scheduled cesareans? Do you want to work with military families? Are you fluent in another language?
- The thing about continuing education is you’re never done. New research is continually coming out and we all must be reading, researching, and attending continuing education events. We also have a great deal to teach each other. Check out Round the Circle: Experienced Doulas Share What They’ve Learned, my new doula anthology that combines advice and information from twenty-three experienced doulas.
- You know enough to be of service now. The most important part of being a doula is showing up when you’re needed with a loving heart and helpful hands. Don’t wait for the moment you know enough to begin. It’s wonderful to learn all you can, but doula work is heart work, not head work. And we all learn as we go.
- Work on marketing. Polish your elevator speech and your website. Get the word out. Connect with doctors, midwives, prenatal massage therapists, chiropractors, yoga instructors, childbirth educators, and other doulas. Our families use our services and move on. For birth professionals marketing is like laundry; it’s never done. It’s probably not your favorite part of being a doula, but it’s necessary. And stay in touch with your families with an annual birthday card; referrals are the heart of most doula businesses.
- Consider expanding your services. Train so you can add childbirth education, postpartum doula services, lactation support, or placental encapsulation. The more you diversify, the more you’ll have to offer your families.
- Network. Attend conferences in your area and beyond. Be active on doula Facebook groups. Connect with other local doulas so you have a community to back you up, refer to, and support you.
- Charge what you’re worth. Think about what you spend on continuing education, childcare, gas, certification.
- Give back to your community when you can. Mentor a newer doula or take on a volunteer or low pay birth from time to time.
- Taking time off is necessary. Schedule time when you can go away with your family, go to sleep with your phone turned off, or buy tickets to a play or sporting event. This will help protect you from burnout so you’ll still be doulaing for years to come.
- Be part of a doula organization that truly supports you. You need an organization that does more than just train doulas. You deserve ongoing support as well.
Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD is the author or the doula anthology Round the Circle: Doulas Share Their Experiences. She trains doulas and childbirth educators for CAPPA, teaches independent childbirth classes, and volunteers as a La Leche League Leader.