How To Become A Doula

Being pregnant and giving birth is an emotional rollercoaster. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it's not just your hormones that are making you feel overwhelmed. Adding a member to your family can cause you to stress about the future, whether it be your current relationships, your finances, or just an overall sense of change. Your changing body and pregnancy side effects, like nausea and fatigue, can also make you feel unlike yourself.

If you have been pregnant, or been close with someone who was, you may have wondered why there isn't more support for pregnant people when they go through this huge life change. But did you know there is actually an entire career dedicated to this? According to the National Women's Health Network, a doula is someone who supports a pregnant person emotionally through their pregnancy, birth, and sometimes postpartum as well. While not medically trained, doulas are trained in helping people advocate for themselves and are meant to help those experiencing pregnancy have a better, smoother childbirth process. If this sounds like something you may be interested in pursuing, here's what it takes to become a doula.

Steps to becoming a doula

According to Natural Healers, doula directly translates to "a woman who serves" in Greek. As a doula, you will be helping your pregnant clients have a positive, uplifting experience that they hope for. In addition to that, you will also be in charge of educating your patients, so it's important you take the right steps to become properly trained and equipped to handle the duties of a doula.

While you technically are not required to have any certifications to become a doula, it is highly recommended, per How To Become. The type of certification you get depends on the type of doula you are interested in becoming. If you do choose to get certified, you will need to look at courses created by organizations like DONA International or CAPPA Worldwide. According to Natural Healers, if you choose to be a birth doula, you will need to take classes in childbirth, breastfeeding, and birth and will need to attend several births before getting your certification. If you are interested in becoming a postpartum doula, you will take courses on infant care and postpartum care, as well as home visitation.

What you can expect from being a doula

Each and every doula may have a different take on their careers. There are postpartum doulas, who focus on the parent and child after birth, and there are birth doulas, who help a pregnant person advocate for themselves during birth and are a support for the parent during pregnancy and labor. Some doulas are hired directly by the patient, while others may work for a hospital or birthing center (note: if you go this route, a certification is required), per Natural Healers.

If you choose to become a birth doula, you will focus on the parent starting in their second or third trimester. During this time, you will help understand their goal for labor and delivery, create a birth plan, educate them on breathing techniques and answer any questions they may have about the birthing process, per WebMD. During labor, you will be there throughout the entire process, calming your patient, helping with relaxation techniques, communicating your patient's preferences to the doctors and nurses, and calming their support person. Many doulas also stay after labor to help teach newborn care tips, aid in breastfeeding, and ensure the parent is getting adequate rest and staying as healthy as possible. According to the National Women's Health Network, a doula can change the way a person feels about their childbirth experience, which can, in turn, create a healthier parent and child.