Becoming A Doula
Almost every day one or more women call Northeast Doulas’ office asking, “how do I become a doula?”
The answer is fairly simple. To become a doula there are a small handful of requirements. To begin, you must take a workshop (usually 1 day for postpartum certification and 2-3 days for labor doula certification). In addition to that, you must read several books, write a handful of papers and serve 3 families in labor/birth or postpartum and have some evaluation forms completed. You can start work immediately as a “trained doula” while you are waiting to be granted certification.
Interestingly, no one ever calls and says, how much can I make? Is there good money in it? Is it hard work? Those are NOT the kind of questions that come to a woman’s mind when she is considering becoming a doula. You see this is the kind of work where the real reward is a “paycheck of the heart”.
Now don’t get me wrong, Doulas are on call 24 hours a day. They miss important family events, holidays etc. They are often called in the middle of the night and expected to jump out of bed with a smile on their face and go immediately to work for an undefined amount of time. They work long hard hours and give 100% of themselves any time a client needs them. Sooo…. They MUST be compensated but no amount of money makes up for missing the 2nd grade fairytale play when your son is Prince Charming or Thanksgiving dinner with your entire family.
So in addition to a reasonable financial reward there is more, much more. Think about it, there is great reward in giving. I mean in giving in a nonjudgmental and free spirited way. When we share something that we have with another person we seem to end up with more of it or more of something else for ourselves. Have you ever heard the expressions “you have to give it away to keep it” or “use it or lose it”? When we share our experience at a birth with a laboring couple, we gain more experience. When we give a book we enjoyed to a friend, we share in our friend’s enjoyment and discussion of that book. See the “extra” rewards?
But remember, doulas… those are “extra” rewards. You can’t pay the person who watched your kids while you were at the birth with a book discussion! Your experience attending births and supporting couples will not fill your gas tank or put food on your table!
Many new doulas offer their services at a free or discounted rate. Consumers or clients should beware of this. Keep in mind that this woman is offering to be on call for you 24 hours a day 7 days a week for several weeks. When she offers this service for $0, realize what she is saying! She is saying that she so badly wants to share in YOUR experience that she is willing to stop ANYTHING she is doing with ANYONE she is doing it with (family, work obligations, personal commitments, etc included) ANY time, day or night, in order to attend your birth for NO compensation. Does that make sense to you?!? It doesn’t to me. I believe that if you work, you get paid. This work is not like doing a favor. A favor is picking up a gallon of milk while you’re at the store for someone or picking up their mail while they are on vacation. This is TOTAL accountability (at least it should be) and if someone offers to do that without compensation, I would wonder why they are so desperate to do it.
I am a certified, professional (Rock N’ Roll) Doula. This is my career, my profession, my livelihood and for that, I am paid. I do not feel bad for being compensated for my commitment and dedication any more than my lawyer or my accountant does. I make an honest living. I am proud to serve women in birth and I am extremely grateful that I have chosen a career where I am additionally rewarded with a “paycheck of the heart”.