The information on this page is an excerpt from the FabJob Guide to Become a Doula. It is only a small sample of the valuable information contained in the 117 page complete guide.
Getting Those First Few Births
Every experienced doula will tell you that the first few births are the hardest to get, but after attending several births, you’ll start getting referrals and be able to market yourself with more confidence. Meanwhile, you need to attend some births now!
Maybe you have attended doula training, but you haven’t been certified by anyone yet. In fact, you may need these births in order to complete your certification. How can you get those first births when everyone wants a doula with experience? And how do you get the experience if no one will let you be their doula?
Mentoring is an excellent way to get experience. Mentoring is when you tag along to births with an experienced doula, and she helps get you the hands-on experience you need. She may ask you to take pictures and hold the video camera—if that’s what this client wants. She may ask you to get water or ice chips for mom.
I spoke to Stephanie Soderblom, a certified doula who frequently mentors new doulas. I asked her where she met her doula trainees, how she decides if she’s going to mentor them and what she lets them do during the births.
She told me that she couldn’t remember where she met her first doula trainee, "…but we ended up… good friends. She ended up being one of my doulas for my birth."
The second doula she mentored, "I met when she came to my house when I held a Polly Perez/Suzanne Arms workshop…and we hit it off… became friends… she then did her doula training and I began mentoring her." The doula trainee she is mentoring now was referred to her.
When you’re looking for someone to mentor you, call up the different doula-certifying organizations (see Chapter 2) and ask for referrals to doulas in your town. You can also look on the web for doulas in your area.
About.com’s Pregnancy Resources
Birth Partners – Doula Search
Whoever decides to mentor you will probably interview you in person first. Be sure to read section 7.8 ("Surviving Interviews") before calling for interviews.
"I ask some of the same questions my clients ask, and I make sure that our philosophy and style is the same. I can’t have someone hire me for my philosophy, and then find out that my back-up doula or the doula I’m mentoring is totally different. I ask things like, ‘If a mother came to you and said she KNEW she wanted an epidural, what would you say? Feel? Would you feel comfortable working with someone who didn’t plan to breastfeed? Planned to circumcise? Wanted a hospital birth? Home birth?’ I try to get a feel for their philosophy, and how they talk and interact. If I would feel comfortable referring people to them, then I feel comfortable taking them on and helping them with their certifying births."
—Stephanie Soderblom CD (DONA), ICD
What will you be doing at the birth?
Stephanie told me that at the first births, "[My trainee does] little more than observe and be my gopher… they run to get drinks and heat up the hot sox and grab me that towel from over there, etc." This is your chance to be at the birth without the pressure to perform.
At the second birth, "I usually have them be more involved, watching how they are and working WITH them more than anything else." Then, at the third birth, "I usually step back and have them do all of the paperwork with their own supplies. I become the back-up doula more than anything else, more observing her and being there for help and suggestions than anything else."
After that, Stephanie told me, it’s up to them. "If she wants more experience, fine. If not, pleasure working with you. I love being a mentor… love, love, love it. My experience has been very positive."
After you have attended a few births, you can tell your clients that you’ve mentored with a local doula, and tell them about her credentials. This will help your clients see you as experienced and someone they’d trust as their doula.
The above is only a small sample of the information contained in the FabJob Guide to Become a Doula. The complete guide includes many more ideas on how to get those first few births plus detailed advice on how to get hired as a doula.
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