1. Start by finding an experienced doula to talk to…
Do an on-line search for doulas in your area. You could also use DoulaMatch or go to DONA International’s Find a Doula page to search for practicing doulas. It’s important to speak to a doula in the area you plan to work in. Every place has its own birth culture, its own ways, and it’s a good idea to hear what it’s like to work as a doula where you are.
Don’t expect a doula to spend half-an-hour on the phone with you or to write a long email of answers to your questions. Offer to take them out for lunch or coffee. Most doulas are happy to chat, but are very busy – so make sure you have thought about what you want to know. Do a little research first!
Here are some important questions to ask the doulas you speak to:
- What are the best parts of the job?
- What is the worst part of the job?
- How do you keep a balance between your work and your home life?
- How to you get support from other doulas?
- How do you find your clients?
- What did you wish you had known before you went to your first birth?
- Can you actually support yourself financially doing this work?
Ask the doula the tough questions. Doulas are supposed to be honest, but sometimes they are too kind. Don’t let them paint too rosy a picture of the work, but get them to tell you about the wonderful excitement of it too!
2. Get some information about what birth is like in your community…
Observing pre-natal classes is a good way to do that. In Victoria, you could attend a Mothering Touch Childbirth Preparation Class, or you could call Camosun College. Outside Victoria, try Public Health Units, the local hospital or the local Community College. You can also look in the yellow pages under Prenatal.
Tell them you are working towards becoming a doula and would like to observe a series of classes. Many places will let you do so for free.
3. Do some reading on doulas, pregnancy and childbirth…
There are lots of resources available online, hundreds of birth stories, written by doulas, midwives and mothers. The Mothering Touch Centre also has a book and video library you may utilize. Several of the books below are also on the reading list for DONA certification:
There are many internet sites about doulas, but the most complete and authoritative one by far is the DONA website at www.dona.org You will find there not only information on what doulas are about, but also on how to become certified as a doula.
The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth by Penny Simkin (2013 Edition). * this is the course manual for our DONA-Approved Birth Doula Workshop
The Doula Book: How a Trained Labour Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birthby Marshall Klaus MD, Phyllis Klaus & John Kennell MD
Pregnancy, Childbirth and The Newborn, The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley & Ann Keppler
The Labor Progress Handbook: Early Interventions to Prevent and Treat Dystocia by Penny Simkin & Ruth Ancheta
When Survivors Give Birth by Penny Simkin
A must-read for doulas who wish to offer trauma-informed care.
4. Find a DONA-approved doula workshop program near you…
If you live in or near Victoria, we are pleased to offer you doula workshops right here:
- DONA-approved Birth Doula Workshop and Doula Training at The Mothering Touch Centre
- DONA-approved Postpartum Doula Workshop at The Mothering Touch Centre
If you live elsewhere,