Become a Birth Doula

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Become a Birth Doula. There are few more magical moments in life than the birth of a new baby.

Filled with emotion, struggle, and pure joy, being a part of such an experience is profound. Assisting a mother with the birth of her child can be a rewarding task.

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What is a Doula?

The word Doula comes from an ancient Greek word meaning female servant. Modernly, a Birth Doula is a childbirth assistant, or birth partner, who is present during the delivery of a child, as a servant only to the mother.

A Doula does not converse with doctors, nurses, or midwifes. A Doula does not make decisions for a mother. She simply assists the mother with having the birth experience she desires. Most Doulas are not related to the birth mother. Doulas are trained, independent contractors who meet with the birth mother a few times before delivery, and are then on call to attend the birth. Births can be in a hospital setting or in a home setting.

What does a Birth Doula do?

There are two main functions of a childbirth Doula:
  1. Implement and Follow a Birth Plan, As Much As Possible
  2. See to the Expectant Mother's Comfort During Labor
Prior to delivery, a Birth Doula will meet with the expectant mother and discuss a Birth Plan. This Birth Plan will go over how the mother would like her birth experience to unfold. They will discuss in detail issues such as:
  • The Desire for Medication
  • The Type of Medication
  • Who is Allowed in the Birth Room
  • The Desire for Episiotomy
  • Different Labor Positions
  • Labor Breathing Techniques
  • Focal Points, Aromatherapy, and Music
  • It is important to note that a Birth Doula does not attempt to sway a mother's decision on any issue with her own opinion. A Doula assists a mother with making sure that her desires are carried out during delivery, as best they can.

    During labor, a Doula remains with the mother and sees to her comfort. She helps with labor positions, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. She assists the mother into a whirlpool bath if desired. She gives the mother back massages.

    If the mother has expressed ahead of time that she does not want medication, the Doula reminds her of this if she begins to ask for it, but does so gently. If the expectant father is proving to be an unwelcome distraction, upon the mother's desires, the Doula asks him to leave. If the mother wants ice chips, the Doula goes to get them for her.

    A Doula does not tell the mother what to do, she does not tell the doctors or nurses what to do, and she does not deliver the baby. She acts as a knowledgeable support person to the mother, and assists with the labor portion of the delivery.

    How to Become a Childbirth Doula

    To become a certified birth doula, you would need to go through training, study books, and gain experience by attending births. To get started, visit the following websites. They are organizations that certify Doulas across the world. I have personally taken the DONA course, and found it enlightening and very informational.
  • DONA International
  • CAPPA: Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association
  • Birthworks International
  • Childbirth International
  • The training to become a childbirth doula is not overwhelming in cost, and neither is the time commitment involved in the process. Depending on the course you take, and your commitment to the process, you should be able to get certified for under $1000 in a matter of 6 months or so. Doulas charge varied fees depending on their geographical location and their experience, but you can expect to receive $300+ per client as a very low starting wage.

    Other Types of Childbirth Assistants

    In addition to childbirth doulas, the field of labor and delivery has many other opportunities. Often, birth doulas find themselves happy with the career path they've chosen, and will expand to other childbirth fields.

    Postpartum Doula
    This doula assists a mother and her newborn after delivery, coming to the mother's home to assist where needed.

    Lactation Consultant
    This woman is an expert on breastfeeding, and can assist a new mother with learning this task. She helps with issues such as latching on properly, low milk supply, pumping and concerns like inverted nipples. For some women, having a lactation consultant can mean the difference between breastfeeding and giving up and switching to a bottle.

    If delivery fascinates you, the next step would be to become a midwife. Each state varies on laws regarding training and certification of midwives. There are many schools nationwide that have extensive training programs. Plan on spending 1-2 years in training.

    Have you ever considered helping other mothers to be? Or did you have a doula in your birth experience?

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