May is International Doula Month, and if you ended up here, you likely already know that doulas offer a punch full of benefits. The evidence backing doula care ranges from:
- reducing the incidence of c-sections
- shortening the length of labour
- more positive birth & postpartum experiences
What we think to be the most important however, is increasing the confidence of parents with the care of their new baby. Having a guide in newborn care & infant feeding is just as important as having a mentor at your new job. Shadowing your mentor until you are feeling well equipped to do it all on your own. Isn’t parenting the most important new job you will ever add to your resume?
All of these perks of having doula support aside, what does it REALLY TAKE to be a Doula?
1. Well, They Gotta Be Born That Way
Seriously. This is the number one skill set we look for when adding to our team. Compassionate and genuine care givers are the foundation of every great doula. This is one of the most interesting components of a doula’s story. How did you know this was the work you were meant to do?
Every doula of course has a different journey of their “Ah ha” moment. Whether it is from a very well supported parenting journey themselves, a not-so-great personal experience, or being sought out by friends at a very early age to help soundboard tough transitions.
2. Importance of Formal Training
This driving force needs professional training to set the foundation for supporting growing families. Parents want to have their mentor know the most up-to-date information from all things childbirth education to safe sleep practices. Without this, a doula really is no different than a well meaning family or friend helping you out.
Personal experience can be a bonus if your friend or family resonates with your parenting or birthing style. But what if you want to do things a little differently than how your support person did it? This is why having a professional touch on walking a family through what feels right for them is the way to go.
3. It Shouldn’t Stop There
All industries require ongoing education to stay up to snuff with best practices. The Doula world is no different. However, doulas do have a choice to renew their training certification. Helping Hands absolutely requires this, and only wants to be working alongside team members that value this for themselves and also the clients we care for.
This is why Helping Hands Doulas has on-going training in the form of team meetings monthly. Learning a new skill from an allied practitioner, adding more tools in our toolbelt, and of course learning from one another are all important.
4. Two is Better than One
Traditionally, doulas worked independently. One doula for one family, requiring ridgid scheduling and often pouring from a glass half full. Here’s where Helping Hands really pivots with a shared care mentality. Supporting families while receiving support as doulas, is like pouring from an overflowing cup. And our clients really feel the difference of the team approach to care.
Now what we don’t want is a revolving door of doulas. This is not what shared care is about. It’s having a care concierge to customize a client’s needs with a continuity of connected care. It’s also about having additional onboarding training in personality styles & providing judgement free care for our doulas to be able to connect quickly with families.
5. Support for Support Workers
There is a huge spectrum of normal for pregnancy, postpartum & newborn development. As I’m writing this, 20 years into supporting families, I’m still learning. To think that doulas should know it all, is well, impossible.
We never work alone. We wouldn’t do it ANY other way. Connected with each other through mentoring calls, 24/7 team chats, and opportunities to “hang out” while learning at least 3 times a month. The ability to ask questions, receive feedback, and on-going encouragement is endless. THIS is what makes the difference between figuring it out all on your own, and receiving the same type of support our clients love so much.
Stay tuned for a day in the life of a Doula throughout the Pandemic.