When researching how to become a doula, you’ll learn all about education requirements, observations of live births, etc. But an important part of your doula journey you likely won’t see as much about are the qualities that make a good doula. While there are many different qualities that doula possess that make them great at what they do, here are five that we believe to be especially important.
Most who have witnessed a birth will know firsthand that the birthing process can take time. Doulas wait for the call from their client that labor is beginning, and this call is then followed by more waiting. Whether your client is laboring in a birthing center, a hospital, or at home, it can take hours before the baby arrives. And your job is to wait through this long process without getting discouraged, impatient, or negative. This is where being patient proves to be a virtue that will make you an excellent doula.
Having respect is just as important for a doula as being patient. This includes having respect for the birthing process, respect for everyone on the mother’s birthing team, and respect for the mother’s wishes, even if they are contrary to yours. And beyond respect, a good doula takes it a step further by empowering the mother’s opinions or choices. A good doula never judges a mother for the choices she makes.
An important part of being a doula is always being there. And when you are there, you are physically and mentally there. To accomplish this, don’t book too many clients that you run the risk of missing a birth because you are stuck at another one. Make sure you are on time to all meetings with your clients prior to the birth. Respond to all calls and emails as soon as possible. Most importantly, when you are at the birth, you are one-hundred percent there! No playing on your phone or entertaining yourself unless the mother requests space and alone time. When this happens you hold the space, but keep on eye on what is happening. You should always be with your client, ready to assist as needed. Your client is relying on you for support.
It is important to remember a birthing experience is not about you. That means you don’t bring your own personal problems with you to a birth. Check your ego at the door and be emotionally present. Things that might distract you or take up space in your mind in your day-to-day life need to be put on hold while you are working. Make sure that every part of you is available at birth to be able to assist and provide your client with everything you can.
The best doulas want to make a difference in the lives of their clients. They also care about birth and the birthing process. Additionally, you care about your client’s wishes and are willing to fight for them to have the birthing experience they want. As a doula, you should be passionate about learning about your client and supporting their needs.
Things That DON’T Make Your a Better Doula
Along with the important traits that a doula should have to be good at their job, there are a few things that don’t make you a better doula. These include:
Despite what you might think, age doesn’t really matter. Whether you are young and haven’t given birth yourself or are older than most of your clients, it doesn’t matter. Many expectant mothers aren’t concerned about age, as long as they feel comfortable with their doula and trust her.
Your Birthing Experience
Even if your own birth experience was the opposite of what your client wants her experience to look like, it doesn’t matter. That is the magic of birth. Each expectant mother gets to have their own unique experience. Also, sometimes circumstances arise that are out of your control and dictate your birthing experience. Either way, birth is a phenomenal experience. A good doula will support and encourage their clients regardless of their personal beliefs.
While these are things that you may not learn in a textbook about how to become a doula, they are traits you can continue to cultivate. Your clients will thank you when you are able to provide them with a quality birthing experience.