Every year I hear from many people who want to become doulas, but don't know where to start. I know how it feels! So this two part series is for you, some tidbits of advice coming from the last few years of building a successful doula practice.
PART 1: CHOOSING A DOULA TRAINING
There are many training and certifying doula associations. Since the doula profession is not regulated, they are all just as officially valid as the other. However, some of them are bigger, better known and are seen as more legitimate in the profession. Some of them respond to particular needs or niches in the birth community. So, with so many great options out there, how do you choose a doula training?
These are some things to consider.
ONLINE OR IN PERSON?
The most widely recognize training association for doulas is DONA International. They hold long weekend trainings for doulas and certify people.
But if you're a parent with little kids trying to find the time, childcare, transportation, and money for this training can be really challenging. Because of this, there has been a big emergence of programs responding to these particular needs by bringing the doula training to online platforms.
One of the advantages of doing an in-person doula training is the hands-on experience of practicing comfort measures. But that was a very small part of the workshop.
What I like the most of my online trainings is the ability to go back and re-watch any classes when I need my memory refreshed or when a particular situation comes up. I also like that Bebo Mia specifically has an amazing team of people supporting your journey and answering your questions as they come up, even if it's been a year or more since your training!
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a doula training is your learning style. A lot of the online doula trainings are mostly a lot of reading and then taking quizzes or tests. That works for some people.
But if you're a visual person who needs video demonstrations and likes to listen to classes, then you would benefit from a training that includes that.
Some people have a very hard time keeping up with online courses. If that's your situation, you will benefit from doing an in-person training. Before you sign up, make sure to ask if you will have a way to contact the trainer(s) after the course is done. Make sure you clear out all distractions, take really good notes and ask lots of questions in case it is hard or impossible to contact your trainers again.
WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES?
A very important thing about finding a doula training is to make sure you feel good about their values. Sometimes this part is very obvious, but sometimes it requires you to really sit down and think about what is important for you and why.
Are you looking for a training that is inclusive? Are you looking for a training that focuses on science and information? Are you looking for a training that will understand your particular culture? Are you looking for a full spectrum doula training? Do you have some religious beliefs that might collide with some of the stuff you will be learning? Look into curriculums and spend some time reading about your training association values.
DO THEY OFFER BUSINESS TRAINING?
Now, this part requires a bit of reality checking: If you want to be a doula, most likely you NEED to be a business owner.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. Some hospitals or birth centers employ doulas (but they will usually employ experienced, certified doulas), there are some associations like Open Arms (based in Seattle) that provide volunteer opportunities for doulas, or you could possibly join an agency if there is one in your area.
But most likely, being a doula in our times requires you to be a business owner. That means you need to learn how to market, how to manage your finances, how to navigate life as a self-employed person, how to price your services, etc. A lot of people come out of their doula training shinning with excitement and enthusiasm, expecting to put a couple flyers, make a website and start attending births right away. However, the reality is: the beginning is hard.
Because of this and because the lifestyle is quite demanding, a LOT of people give up. There are a lot of people out there who have trained as doulas but they don't practice. If you really love and resonate with a particular doula training that doesn't offer in-depth business support, you should definitely look into getting your business support elsewhere. Inspired Birth Pro and Doula Business School are some of the options.
TRAININGS I RECOMMEND
I love their focus on inclusivity, their above-and-beyond business support, their live, interactive classes, and their fun yet professional approach. They offer payment plans and scholarships. Their online platform is easy to navigate and it provides LOTS and LOTS of support for their students. More than anything, I absolutely love and resonate with their mission: "to support women* in connecting to their intrinsic value and power."
When I first connected with Bebo Mia, they saw something in me that I couldn't see at the time. When I was so full of self-doubt they believed in me and helped me believe in myself, in my passion and my gift to support birthing families.
Also, I recently started a training with Birthing From Within to become a childbirth educator and they are including a doula training in the bundle. I resonate strongly with Birthing From Within because of their focus on inner knowledge, art, and storytelling. It's considered by many to be one of the "crunchier" options, but I they have a non-outcome-focus approach and for me personally, it has been a very important piece to becoming the kind of doula I really want to be. Their doula training is called Doula From Within and they offer both online and in-person options.
THERE IS A LOT MORE
I'm only sharing with you what I know, but there are many more options out there. Now it's up to you to go ahead and find the training that is right for you. Either way this is just the beginning of your path. You will continue to learn and grow with every birth you attend, with every conversation you have with a pregnant person, and with the many other educational opportunities you will run into as you continue this journey.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series: What I want newly trained doulas to know about getting started.