The Ins and Outs of Being a Doula

A doula is a Greek word meaning "woman servant." Doulas are trained professionals helping and guiding a woman and her partner through childbirth. A doula provides a continuous presence during labor and delivery as she takes care of a mother's emotional and non-medical needs.

ARE YOU DOULA MATERIAL?

Do you pick up childbirth magazines, immediately turning to the labor section, and you aren't even pregnant? Do you long to talk to anyone who is pregnant? I was this way before I became a doula or labor assistant. When I was looking for a new career path after the birth of my second child, I came across a doula when I was waiting in line to register my son for preschool. I was in a certified doula training class a month later and have never looked back. Now, I want to help other women who are passionate about childbirth and want to pursue a life change into the doula world. Once you decide that you want to become a doula, you will never be the same person again.

ALL NIGHTERS AND SHORT DELIVERIES

No one can prepare you for the all nighters. This is the hardest part of being a doula. You are consistently offering massage, suggestions on positioning and explanations of medical procedures throughout the night. You do all this with a smile on your face and a positive attitude. Some labors will take you through two whole nights. Try doing this when you are not a coffee drinker.

Some deliveries are long, some are short. This helps balance your doula practice. Thirty-six hours or 4 hours, either way you walk away from the delivery on a natural high. You feel on top of the world because you were apart of an extraordinary experience. You were able to provide assistance to a laboring mother and serve in a unique way.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The first thing you have to do is check into a certified doula program with CAPPA, Doulas of North America(DONA) and Lamaze International for local trainings. Get involved with local doula groups for support and friendship. Read everything you can get your hands on and talk to every pregnant woman you find.

Julie L. Johnson is a wife and mother of three who has experienced every pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding situation there is and has lived to tell about. She is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Doula and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant practicing in Southern California. Her website http://www.birth-angel.com provides services and products to help ease transition through motherhood. The products also make great doula "Thank You" gifts or for a baby shower.

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