So lately I've had a significant number of women reaching out to me intrigued with the idea of becoming a doula. They want to know what my daily life is like, how much money I make, and how I went through the process of becoming a doula. Many of them ask to meet up so that they can find out whether or not this profession would be a good fit. I would love the opportunity to sit face to face and share my passion for the work I do and help others take the next step toward seeking doula work as a profession. In fact, my goal is to always try to be mentoring a newer doula at any given time. However, due to the busyness of family life, attending births, meetings with clients, and being on call 24/7, I find myself running short on time (don't we all?). So, I thought I would write this blog post that will hopefully answer the big questions any prospective doula might have.
I became a certified doula in 2011 with CAPPA (http://www.cappa.net/about). There are many certifying avenues but I chose CAPPA because #1 - the doula who was mentoring me became certified through this organization. #2 - They were local and the training was very convenient. #3 - They were an established, large, and respected organization. #4 - In researching their website, I liked what I saw. Most of the organizations have similar requirements for certification. CAPPA gives you two years to complete your certification. It took me a little over a year (I was assertive and determined to finish mine as soon as possible). You can take a look at their website to see what certification entails.
I did not become a doula to make a huge amount of money. I have always been into all things birth related and I'm a nurturer (if you're into Enneagrams, I'm a Type 2), so this profession felt right for me. I was hoping to have something that would help supplement our income and that is exactly what birth work has done for our family. What a prospective doula needs to understand is that your income is determined by how many clients you are able to take and feel comfortable taking each month. For me, I have set my limit to taking two to three clients a month (there are some seasons I choose to only take one a month) so that I can give the absolute best care and do my best to ensure that my client has me (and not a back up doula) at her birth. So...as far as yearly income, just multiply how many clients you would like to take a month and multiply it by twelve. Then you will need to deduct costs for education, marketing/website costs, doula tools, and the significant gas expense from driving to and from clients homes and places of birth. Also, some doulas have to pay for childcare which is an additional deduction. So, as you can see, you're not going to make a ton of money just doing doula work. Another thing to consider is that it takes time and work to gain clientele initially. So, you may only have a sprinkling of clients that first year. I do know people who have added other services to increase their income (childbirth classes, placenta encapsulation, postpartum doula work), but keep in mind that when you are on call 24/7, these things become more challenging to do.
What does my daily life look like as a doula? Well...most days I am homeschooling my daughter and managing my home. I do keep up with emails and check in on clients. On any given day/night I may have an interview with a couple or a prenatal consultation. If I have any big plans, I always have to say "I can make it IF I'm not at a birth". I'm in a season of life where it's pretty easy to drop everything and go to a birth. My husband works from home on most days. I have two kids over eighteen and one who is ten, so I don't have little ones to have to find childcare for. I always have my doula bag ready to go. I try to do my best to plan vacations, birthday parties, and any big events around client due dates. I ALWAYS have a doula on call so that if there's something I just can't miss, a client is never in danger of not having a doula at her birth. Since I'm an active member of my church's worship team, I have a doula on call for me when I'm scheduled to serve which I try to limit to about once a month.
What happens when I'm called to a birth? Well, my family knows they may not see me for the next 36+ hours. I enter the "birth zone" and give 100% to my client. I do everything in my power to ensure the birth is as beautiful, calm, and relaxing as possible. I'm with the family 24/7 until about an hour after the baby is delivered. This can be a few hours up to 36 or more hours. So, although the work is rewarding, amazing, and exhilarating, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting. When I arrive home from a birth, I need a considerable amount of uninterrupted time to sleep and recover. And on occasion I have been called to another birth shortly after one is over. Most of the time for me, my work comes in spurts. I may have a super active couple of weeks, and then a fairly quiet couple of weeks.
Being a doula can be a wonderful career, especially if it falls into your personal giftings. Are you a nurturer? Do you feel that although birth can be messy, long, and intense, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL? Are you okay with being right in the middle of it all? Do you like building one-on-one relationships and helping others? Are you a touchy-feely type of person? If you answered yes, then I would encourage you to further research the possibility of becoming a doula. Doulas make a HUGE difference in the life of a family. Being a doula means hearing this phrase, "We could have never done this without you" over and over. It is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. And what is better than witnessing new life? At the end of each "work shift" you can always know that your hard work will pay off with a HUGE reward!
I truly hope this post gives a glimpse into the life of a doula and will be of help to anyone interested in pursuing this career. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below. :)