How many births have you attended?
Your badge of honor. The one piece of information that proves to your clients that you know what you are doing as a birth doula. I have been reflecting on this maxim, do the number of births a doula has attended equal her value as a professional? And how are doulas contributing to this perception, and is it helping them?
I have been to hundreds of births — thousands of hours of labor. Does this make me the best, doula? I am not so sure anymore. My direct experience working with families has undoubtedly helped me to recognize how I can be of service to my clients. But upon reflection, the things that make me a fantastic doula were with me long before I attended my first birth.
I want us to reframe this as a profession and begin to think about how we can emphasize the gifts we bring with us from our days before becoming a Doula.
Clients often ask this question first, as if the amount of babies we see born proves we are good at our job. Our role requires a lot more than seeing babies born. How can you, as a doula, shine a light on the things that make you the best fit for your clients?
You are not the sum of births attended. The hours you put into building yourself as a professional are also about the kind of energy you put into yourself as a person and the path that led you to becoming a doula in the first place.
As Labor and Postpartum Doula faculty for CAPPA, I meet extraordinary people working to become professional doulas. Often I find a hesitancy, a doubt about their ability to be a competent doula because they “don’t have any experience.” I am often surprised because, instead, I see interesting, smart, and compassionate women with a wealth of life experience.
I invite you to explore all of the things you have done in your life that have led you to this point. Have you worked as a nanny? Great, you have rich experience working with families!
Are you coming from advertising? You are creative, and perhaps you have a gift for bringing ideas together.
You are a fully formed person with a lifetime of experience that can be applied to your work as a doula and can provide your clients with a dynamic and compelling birth experience.
Let’s start looking at our doula identities with an expansive lens, one that includes our gifts, even if they might not seem at all related to our work as doulas—you might find some inspiration and confidence that you can apply going forward.
CLD, CPD, CAPPA FACULTY
Kristy, a doula and faculty member for the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), is now mentoring the next generation of doulas in New York City. For the past 9 years, she has dedicated Expecting NYC, her private practice, to supporting women and their families throughout the childbearing year. Kristy began her career as a massage therapist, specializing in prenatal and postnatal massage therapy. In fact, it was her clients who first brought her into the work of a labor doula. Many of them asked her to attend their births–radically changing the direction of her path. Her passion for supporting pregnant women quickly grew. Within a week of doula training, she attended her first birth and has supported hundreds of women and their families ever since. As a seasoned certified lactation counselor and massage therapist, Kristy’s compendium of skills have proved invaluable to women throughout their pregnancies and labor. She is an advocate for a woman’s right to have a healthy, positive birth experience in the environment of her choice. Her support methods include mindfulness, evidence-based education, and an open heart.