These days, the word "doula" is less of a mystery than it was even five years ago. A search in your area will likely turn up 10 or more names, even in more rural areas. The word doula is also beginning to encompass more roles — everything from antenatal to support to those on bed rest, birth, postpartum, and even sick-day and surgery doulas! There are very few people who can't occasionally benefit from some non-judgmental support.
So, who are all these people becoming doulas, and why do they do it? Getting out of your warm bed at 2 a.m. during a snowstorm because a baby decided today is the day is not usually high on a person's fun list. And yet, every year, thousands of individuals enroll in doula trainings, set up businesses and begin supporting families.
Have you considered becoming a doula? Here are five reasons you should.
1. You love to help
Doula work, by its very nature, is a nurturing profession. You would be a great doula if you like to help others. Doulas are problem solvers who help others find their own way. By becoming a doula, you are engaging in work of the heart, the act of care giving, while also earning a living.
2. It is possible for this to be a career
Depending on where you live, it might take time for your job as a doula to constitute full-time work and wages. Doulas working in large urban centres may have an easier time, especially at first. That said, many smaller towns have embraced doulas, and you have the benefit of knowing your community that much better. However long it takes, this can be a professional career.
3. There is flexibility
Not everyone wants a full-time role right away, and that is OK! Doula work is flexible in so many ways. Many doulas begin with postpartum work because they can often schedule hours when they are not needed at home, and then they are free to attend other responsibilities. Schedules are dictated somewhat by a clients needs, or in the case of birth — when baby decides it is time to be born — but there are often ways to meet the needs of both client and doula.
Doula support changes the lives and experiences of those who hire doulas.
4. It is life-changing
Whether laughing with clients over something ridiculous that happened, snuggling a small baby, helping a new parent to conquer their anxiety, or interacting with a wide variety of people, doula work is fun. It is also deeply touching and an opportunity to connect with people in an incredibly meaningful way.
Whether it is looking into a birthing person's eyes and giving them the encouragement and confidence to give one last push to birth their baby, or helping a new parent to feed their baby more confidently, doula support changes the lives and experiences of those who hire doulas. And as the doula who does that work, you are involved and part of the structure and memory of those amazing moments.
5. It is so much more than births
While many people consider the role of the doula to be what it is traditionally associated with — birth support — doulas are so much more than that! This is truly a career that has something for everyone with room to grow. You can expand into postpartum work, placenta encapsulation, lactation support, car seat installation, or childbirth education. There is so much to learn and continuing growing in. Many doulas also choose to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship alongside doula work and learn the skills and risk of starting their own business. This allows them to utilize finance skills, administrative skills, customer service, creativity, writing and more. There really is no limit to where you can take the doula role.
Doula work is not for everyone. Birth and babies are often messy, occasionally smelly, and not for the faint of heart. But the rewards are endless. If you have always been a nurturer, comforter and caregiver, doula work is a pathway to professionalizing what you have always done and felt in your heart.
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