Good news! You don’t have to be “crunchy” to be a doula (and 7 other misconceptions about becoming a doula)
Maybe you’ve been thinking about becoming a doula, but have hesitated because you don’t like granola, or because you think natural childbirth sounds way too old school. I mean, all doulas are pretty crunchy, right? It must be difficult to be a doula if you don’t like the smell of patchouli or think you’d look ridiculous in dreadlocks.
Here’s the good news: this common stereotype of the doula is just that, a stereotype. Doulas don’t fit into any single mold. Let’s take a few moments to break down some of the common misconceptions about becoming a doula.
Misconception 1: You Can’t be a Doula if You’re Not “Crunchy”
Someone who only knows what a doula is based on what they’ve seen in movies or on TV shows may visualize someone barefoot, with a flowing skirt, and a flower crown marching into the delivery room. The truth is, you’re unlikely to pick a doula out of a crowd. Doulas come from all backgrounds and walks of life. The only commonality between them is their commitment to selflessly support pregnant, laboring, and postpartum women.
Misconception 2: You Have to be a Mother to be a Doula
If you’ve never had a baby, you may be worried about your ability to understand the needs of the birthing or postpartum woman. Sure, going through labor and delivery will add an extra level of empathy. However, it’s absolutely not necessary to be a mother in order to be a doula. Getting certified through the International Doula Institute will ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the process of birth. You will have all the tools necessary to effectively support a new mother through all the stages of labor, and well into the postpartum period.
Misconception 3: You Can’t be a Doula if Natural Childbirth Scares You
Doulas support women in ALL types of births, not just natural childbirth. And I’ll let you in on a secret: the foundation of being a doula is offering non-judgmental support, no matter where and how a woman chooses to birth. As a doula, it doesn’t matter what type of birth you prefer for yourself. You’ll be trained to help women have their best birth whether they’re having their baby naturally at home or in the hospital via elective cesarean.
Misconception 4: Doulas are Basically the Same as Midwives
A doula does not perform any medical tasks. Whereas the main focus of the midwife is on the physical well-being of the mother and baby, the doula’s main role is to offer continuous emotional support to the birthing woman. This support can take on many forms. Often, it includes helping the birthing woman into different positions to alleviate pain, providing soothing massage, and giving verbal encouragement.
Misconception 5: If You Become a Doula, You Must Be Willing to Fight with OBGYNs
You may have heard the phrase that a doula is a birthing woman’s “advocate”. This phrase has gotten twisted to mean that the doula will speak for the birthing woman and butt heads with her provider every time they offer an intervention. The truth is that doulas may NEVER speak for their clients. Being an advocate means that the doula will help the birthing woman understand all her options. This way, she will feel empowered to make the best decisions for her birth. In contrast to fighting, it’s in the best interest of the doula, the doctor, and most importantly the birthing woman, if they all work together as a team.
Misconception 6: You Can’t Make Money Becoming a Doula, It’s More of a Hobby
Becoming a doula can absolutely transition into your full-time job. Demand for doulas is high, particularly since the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that every birthing woman should have a doula. Doulas have a special skill set and invest a lot of time into each of their clients. That type of care deserves fair compensation, plain and simple.
Misconception 7: I’m too Old to Become a Doula
First of all, you’re never too old to do anything! Secondly, becoming a doula can be a wonderful career move if you feel a passion to help mothers. Additionally, just as being a doula can be a full-time job, it can also be as part-time as you want it to be. The client load is up to you.
Misconception 8: Guys Can’t be Doulas
While it may be true that the doula field is dominated by women, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for the opposite sex. I mean, it’s 2016 after all! Men can bring a completely different set of experiences and skills to the birthing room. If you’re a guy, and you feel a calling to become a doula, go for it!
The bottom line is that there’s no one way to be a doula. No matter your age, sex, or birthing philosophies, you can learn the skills to become an incredible doula. Not to mention, you can make a highly fulfilling career out of it. Let your passion drive you, and let the International Doula Institute guide you on your way to becoming a doula.