I might hear “I want to be a doula” as often as I hear “I want to be a knitter”. I am both a knitter and a doula in Regina and I think the two acts have quite a bit in common. Some people are just born to doula and some people are just born to knit. Others need to be taught. They will say, “I want to learn to be a doula” or “I want to learn to knit”. Guess what? Depending on where you live, there is relatively easy access to trainings and teaching for both. I have taken both doula training and knitting classes. This is why I think knitting is like doula’ing.
Knitting classes are relatively short. They are meant to teach you basics and get you going, some even construct one particular item, like a hat or a shawl. At the end of the class you have learnt some basic knitting steps and completed a simple item. Doula training is also short & teaches you the basics of birth, some coping strategies and some ideas for your clients; mostly with one type of birth in mind, unmedicated vaginal birth.
Quite a number of people enrol in doula training but can’t seem to get themselves off the ground and into the role as a doula at birth. They might be able to attend a birth or two of friends or family, maybe an acquaintance. After those initial "hot" leads, it isn't so easy to get much more opportunity or experience. Many struggle getting paid for the work they are doing & the time they are committing to.
Lots of people take knitting classes, but never pick up their needles after the initial items made in a group setting are done. Now, I know most people don't learn to knit so they can make a profit, but if they did they are hard pressed to get people to pay them for their time knitting. Both knitters and doulas get stuck here.
You took a class or a training.
What happens if you want to make another knitted item after knitting class? You likely need to read and perform a pattern that is entirely new to you. You need to evaluate if you have the skills to perform that pattern. If you can do it, that is fabulous, off you go knitting. If you don’t have the skills, you have to obtain them somehow. Or alternatively, you have to pass up the project.
What happens if a new doula meets a situation she didn’t come across in doula training? She also has to evaluate if she has the skills to navigate the situation. If she does, she moves along supporting the family. If she doesn’t she will need to obtain them. Or refer to someone else. Sometimes neither happens and both the doula and the client are stuck.
Potential knitting projects are unlimited, just as much so as the different kinds of births a doula will witness. To be honest, I feel a weekend of training or a few hours of knitting with a skilled instructor is not enough to prepare us for everything we might desire to knit or might see and need to support our client through as a doula. We need to understand our limitations of knitting skills just as much as a limitations to our doula capacity.
Doula’ing also gets treated like a hobby, as knitting would be considered. I think there are a few reasons for this. If we were doing doula “right” then we wouldn't be churning over doulas like butter, because sometimes this is how it feels. We see many new doulas trained every year and very few stay practicing year to year, and we lose just as many "old" ones in the next 2-3 years from when they trained. We really have no more doulas now than we did 7 years ago when I trained, we haven't changed anything in the community to enhance birth & increase the desire to have a doula. It is treated like a hobby which does nothing to enhance our professionalism or create a bigger interest in doula to the larger community. There are many reasons why this is, but compare it to knitting again. In order to advance my skill to different projects outside the knitting class I took, I needed more support to continue growing my skills, and I had to seek that out after the class, sometimes in the middle of a project & sometimes before I started a new one. The reality is that many people in my knitting class set the needles down and never returned to knitting after the initial projects because they didn’t know how to get more skills, didn’t know who or where to turn to, or didn’t have the resources (time, money, etc) to do so.
How to convert being a doula from a hobby to a business?
If people want to move from hobbyist doula to business doula there is also a huge amount of skills needed to be able to this, too. Again, some people come to those skills naturally, some have to learn it and others frankly pay someone to handle business stuff for them. But lots of what we need to do to move from hobbyist to business doula is looking at how we are "doing" doula, what skills we need to improve upon and how to get good client outcomes. Birth is unpredictable - that is the only sure thing about birth. But that doesn’t mean birth just happens to people and they should just roll with what may be. Birth can be a positive experience for everyone. It is time to doula differently. I am up for the challenge to connect to my clients, identify their needs & equip them with the tools they need to meet those needs because Your Birth Experience matters. Just like learning to knit more than basics by advancing my knitting skills and performing the same stitches over and over until I got the beautiful outcome I wanted consistently, I have advanced my doula skills to do similar steps and processes with clients to make sure I understand my clients needs, I am able to perform the necessary steps to meet those needs and consistently get good client outcomes. This isn't to say people and birth are processes and a systems, because I do not believe this is the case, I believe all people are births are unique. Rather what I am saying is that by using systems and processes, I can get to know people and their desires for their unique birth experience.
If you would like to chat about your desires for your birth, consider booking a complimentary consult.