how to become a doula in california
What is a doula?
A doula is a non-medical birth companion who provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy, labor and postpartum to the new mother. The word doula comes from Greek, meaning “a woman who serves”. In this case, it refers to someone who serves a new mother before, during and after childbirth. While not a midwife or nurse, a doula is trained in giving physical comfort through massage and assisting with breathing techniques. Doulas are also available for emotional support through listening to concerns or just being present when the woman feels overwhelmed by her experience or needs encouragement.
The benefits of having a doula
- Doulas can reduce the need for medical interventions. Research has shown that when a woman is attended by a doula during her labor, she is more likely to have a shorter labor than women who are not attended by a doula during their labors. Longer labors are associated with higher rates of medical interventions (such as cesarean sections) and complications (such as infections).
- Doulas can reduce the need for pain medication. Women who receive continuous emotional and physical support from a doula are less likely to require medication for pain relief than women who do not receive continuous emotional and physical support from a doula. Part of this is due to the fact that birth is easier when you are able to relax, so having someone with you who will help you stay calm and relaxed may allow you to feel less discomfort in your labor.
Doula training and certification requirements
As an aspiring doula, you have several options for training and certification. You can:
- Take a two-day course in person or online. These courses are designed to teach the essentials of what you need to know as a doula. Some courses are free, but many cost between $250 and $300, depending on where you go. If you opt for an online course, there’s usually no fee at all!
- Find a mentor who will be willing to guide and train you. This is one of the best methods as it provides hands-on experience as well as guidance from someone with expertise in the field.
- Read books or watch videos on different birth processes and techniques and then practice them yourself using your friends or family members (if they’re willing) as “patients” so that you have experience under your belt before going into an actual birthing environment.
- Join doula associations or organizations that provide training materials and workshops that will give you all the information necessary to become certified as well as help connect with other people within their network who might need your services once qualified for employment opportunities after graduation!
NARM certification (for midwives)
As for formal certification, you will most likely want to become a certified professional midwife (CPM), which is an official designation from the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Although not required by law to practice, it is highly recommended. To become a CPM, you have to pass the NARM written exam. In order to be eligible for this exam, you must have completed midwifery training through an accredited program such as those listed above.
Once you’ve made it through your NARM exam, there’s nothing holding you back from becoming a doula!
Here are some ways to find clients:
- Create a website
- Use social media
- Network with doctors and hospitals
- Get referrals from other doulas
- Join a doula organization that helps you meet potential clients
- Advertise your services, especially in magazines and websites that women read. There are several specifically for pregnant women. You can also take out ads in local magazines or on the radio.
Other ways to find parents who want support at their birth include:
- Get a job at a birthing center or hospital. Working as a nurse in a birth setting will make you more familiar with the types of births that happen there, and put you into contact with many parents-to-be who will appreciate having someone familiar on staff when they come to have their babies.
- Start a blog about birth, parenting, pregnancy or any subject related to childbearing. This will keep your name “out there” and establish you as an expert in your field so parents seeking help for their births will think of you first when it comes time for them to choose their labor support team.
Becoming a doula takes some time to get the proper training and certification, but you can make a living helping new mothers.
If you love kids and have a passion for helping new mothers, being a doula might be right for you! First, take a moment to consider the pros and cons of being a doula. If it sounds like the career you’ve been looking for, keep reading to learn how to become a certified professional doula.
Here are some of the pros:
- You can set your own hours and workload
- Helping other people is incredibly rewarding
- It’s possible to make decent money as a doula (on average doulas in California make around $2000 per birth)
- Doulas tend to have very flexible schedules that can accommodate time with family and kids.
- Doulas get experience helping all sorts of women in different situations and conditions.
- The job requires very high levels of physical stamina as well as emotional resilience.
- Since not all moms use doulas, there may be periods when business is slow or non-existent. To combat this problem, try keeping your schedule busy by taking on special projects such as teaching childbirth education classes or providing online parenting advice through blogs or podcasts.