Giving birth can be a scary process. Hospitals can feel cold and desensitized, doctors sometimes aren’t receptive to a patient’s wishes, and it’s all very expensive. Any expectant mom will give you an earful on the fear of the birthing process itself and how things sometimes go wrong. More and more, these mothers are turning to doulas to ensure a smoother, happier process.
What’s a doula? It’s a non-medical assistant who provides emotional and physical support through the birthing process and postpartum assistance. Doulas can act as birth coaches, provide massages and other physical comforts during the labor process, and give guidance on caring for a newborn.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a doula’s assistance can lead to a decrease in labor length, medications, and C-sections. And that’s just the birth itself — doulas can assist beyond the day the baby goes home. New parents can get comprehensive guidance on newborn care, lactation, and physical recovery from the birthing process — and they can get it with a gentler, warmer approach than most healthcare representatives. It’s no wonder doula is a booming profession. For laymen interested in healthcare and providing support in the defining moments of a family’s life, it might just be the perfect fit.
Why Be a Doula?
So why would you want to be a doula? If you’re looking for a job that feels fulfilling and offers a never-ending supply of the warm fuzzies, this might be the one for you. The birth of a new child is a celebratory time for a family, and a doula’s job is to be supportive during the celebration. If you love newborns and have a drive to help (and don’t mind being called to births on a moment’s notice), you may find it rewarding and life enriching.
You’re Already in the Field
You might already be employed in the healthcare field, but maybe you don’t particularly enjoy your work. You might want something a little more one-on-one. Being a doula can give you the opportunity to bond with the family in a way you might not be able to when working for a bigger institution, like a hospital. Labor and delivery or pediatric nurses might find this a more rewarding use of their degree and their experience.
A role as a doula can go beyond your experience as a nurse. A doula can consult on every aspect of the birthing process, from neonatal vitamins to nursing bras, like these nursing bras from ThirdLove. The day-to-day range of work has more variety.
Healthcare professionals have an insider knowledge of how the healthcare system works that can be invaluable to expecting parents. Doulas often act as the advocate for the parents to doctors and nurses. They can maintain a birthing plan when doctors want to go another direction.
Doulas can work either as freelancers or for agencies. For people who have worked in industries with rigid pay scales, it can be liberating set their own pay and get away from negotiating to get the salaries they deserve. Doulas who work for agencies have the security of having clients brought to them. Doulas can earn a livable wage no matter which route they choose.
Those not in the healthcare industry who want to get into work as a doula may find value in training and certification classes. These classes are regularly held over a handful of days, and might have prerequisites (so check listings carefully). Classes often have a cost and range in content from beginner to advanced doula training. You can find classes through doula websites, like DONA International.