As a certified doula, you get to turn your passion for birth into an amazing career. When something is your passion, it’s easy to focus on the passion part and a little less the career part. However, if you’re not a truly professional doula, your career and doula work will be limited.
Why? Few can sustain the time commitment and the emotional load of doula work without building a sustainable career. Without being professional, you cannot build a sustainable career.
We know there is a lot of feel good about being a doula. As a training organization, however, we also want you to be prepared for a real career in birth work.
Here are four things you need to do to be a professional doula:
Take Your Training Seriously
At the International Doula Institute, we recognize busy schedules, family commitments, etc. However, you get out of training what you put into it. If you truly study, read, and watch the curriculum content with the desire to learn versus just pass the assignments, you will be a truly professional doula.
Our curriculum is tried and true. Doulas who complete the program in a thorough and serious manner are fully prepared to support their clients.
Make the most of taking this course. Take notes and study the material. Practice your comfort techniques, role playing, etc. often.
Get in the habit of treating your training in a professional manner. Schedule time to complete tasks and create to-do lists. Whether you plan to make birth work your career or side gig, professionalism is key to success.
You MUST Be Reliable
Doula work might be your passion, but it is your client’s once in a lifetime birth and postpartum period. There are no do overs with birth. There is no redoing those early weeks of bonding. Before taking on any clients, you must be certain you can meet your client’s needs.
There is no room for changing your mind at the last minute. You cannot go out of town last minute or cancel to attend a birthday party. You must be reliable and available for your clients during the on-call period, birth, and any postpartum contracts.
Now, we are obviously human, and life can occur. We cannot control sickness, a car accident, and sometimes we need to set aside time for ourselves. For situations such as vacations or weddings, do not take clients around the event. You can also have a back-up doula available, but always be certain your client is aware this is a possibility.
Your clients must be able to depend on you. Your colleagues must be able to depend on you (e.g., if you’re backing up another doula, be prepared to step in). If you cannot be reliable. If you cannot secure childcare. You cannot take birth or postpartum clients.
If you’re in a season of life where reliability is not doable, consider prenatal and parenting education. Provide consultative support. Spend time networking. Your time will come, but do not gamble with someone else’s birth experience.
Work With Integrity
The doula world often requires networking, learning from others, and building experience. As doulas, it is important to work with integrity. Be respectful of the seasoned doulas in your community. This does not mean you do not advertise, work, and network. This simply means never take the route of putting others down to gain clients.
Working with integrity means if a seasoned doula, agency, or co-op helps you gain clients that you follow any agreements made.
If you use the title doula, be sure you work within your scope of practice. When a doula steps outside her scope, it impacts the entire doula community.
Be mindful to never plagiarize handouts, curriculum, etc.
Work with integrity for yourself, your clients, and the doula community at large. Take your role and your work seriously.
Understand Your Role In The Birth Team
As a doula, it is important to remain within your scope of practice. You should never act in a clinical manner. You must be mindful of your language so as not to give medical advice.
Your role as a doula is to ensure your clients receive evidenced based information and support. Staying within your scope of practice is an important part of being a professional doula.