Beware! Doula Impersonators

One does not simply 'become' a doula...

This post is not about why to hire a doula. There are 100 blogs out there (and SCIENTIFIC studies!) that give us good reasons to hire a doula. This post is assuming you have decided, yes, you want a doula… So who do you hire?

Initially I wanted to write some satire about how your best friend can’t be your doula, blah blah.. But I felt more seriously when I discovered that there ARE individuals out there, being hired as birth or post partum doulas (calling themselves doulas) who arent trained or paid. WHAT? So Who might I be referring to as a doula impersonator? Birth educators, yoga teachers, massage therapists, labor and delivery nurses, your chiropractor, your best friend/cousin/sister, individuals who regularly work as doulas for free… the list goes on. I am sure that these women have good intentions, and they may seem qualified for a number of reasons: she spends a lot of time with pregnant women, has already attended 10 (or however many) births, you already have a connection/relationship, or maybe she had an unmedicated birth herself. However, when it comes to the variables your labor and birth could bring, they may be missing pieces in their lack of formal training as a doula that could be critical to your outcome.

By contrast, lets say you know somebody who grew up in a family of doctors, maybe they already practice some medicine, but they have no actual schooling or credentials? Is that enough experience for you to choose and hire them? Or what about this: Let’s say you love music. You are in a band and you have played an instrument for years… But if you wanted to learn how to PAINT, do you ask your guitarist for art lessons? Probably not.

The point I am trying to make is training and professionalism.

  1. Training. I am a massage therapist and birth educator, but I do not assume that this background entitles me or fully prepares me for doula work. When I am hired for labor and birth support- as a doula– I wear my doula hat with the training and education I have received specific to the job. The experiences I have had as a doula continue to remind me that being a birth educator or massage therapist and being a doula are two different things.
  2. Professionalism. A professional by definition requires- at the least– specialized training and completing a required course of studies and/or practice. Along with the specific training comes a paid occupation rather than a pastime or hobby. The doula you acquire should be a paid professional. Why are you paying her? Because she continues to make an effort to be up to date with current practices, advanced comfort measures, and education. She continues to attend births and broaden her experience, and she continues to educate herself on how better to serve the families that are relying on her for professional support.

So yes, you could chose someone who will work for free, or someone whose company you really enjoy. But when you put in the effort to find a doula who is trained and professional, added benefits await you.  The doula YOU hire should have additional support and comfort techniques in her repertoire via continuing education. They should have the ability to use language that helps bridge the gap between you and your care provider and/or hospital staff. We want you to be empowered, autonomous, and we want you to be FULLY supported in all your decisions. We want you to be educated and informed. Trained, professional doulas know their ethical guidelines, and abide by them.We also have a great reputation with families we have supported and with our peers in the birth community. You want high standards. Quality training.  A good reputation. In other words– A PROFESSIONAL. I am a professional doula. Who are you hiring?

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