Right before I applied for nursing school, I considered becoming a Doula. I was fascinated with how Doulas could help ease the pain of childbirth and help women have more successful labor and deliveries. So, this week we're sitting down with my friend, Amy Nylund to find out what it's like working as a Doula.
What is a Doula?
A birth doula is an individual who offers one-on-one support for a woman in labor as well as her partner and family. The word “doula” comes from a Greek word meaning “woman's servant.” Birth doulas provide continuous, uninterrupted care for the laboring woman and her partner, helping them participate fully in their experience by offering physical and emotional support and information about the birth process and their available options. Doulas also support women through portions of the prenatal and postpartum period.
How did you train for this career?
I attended training with two organizations, DONA International and ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators. I also just jumped right in, offering free and discounted birth doula services when I was first starting five years ago. Workshops and training provide great information, but I learn so much more at each birth I attend.
How many hours do you work a week and how much of that is spent working out of your home?
Aside from the actual births, which can range from 6 to 24 hours on average, I have 1–2 interviews each week in addition to prenatal visits and postpartum visits with clients, which typically last 2 hours each. I take 2–3 clients each month, so the prenatal and postpartum visits usually add up to about 10–12 hours each month, which I schedule at times that work for me and for my clients. I spend a couple of hours each week on paperwork, and my doula partner (Amanda Wyszkowski) and I meet weekly to go over business.
How did you fund your business?
The initial training to become a doula are between $300 and $400, and the basic supplies that you bring to a birth might cost about $50-$100. There are not a lot of out-of-pocket expenses in addition to those things, though ongoing training and workshops are a wonderful way to stay informed and connected. Being a member of the Central Texas Doula Association costs $25 each year.
How would you rate your success from 0–10?
Hmm, interesting question! I’ll say a 7. I’ve been very happy with the way this career has evolved with my family life; I took a year and a half off for the birth of my second child and started back when she was one year old. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to grow my business at the rate that works for my family and me. Partnering with Amanda has been wonderful; we share similar views about birth and about the role of a doula, and providing backup services for each other gives us both peace of mind. She also is a mom to two kids.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I get as much done as I can in the mornings while my kids are at school, and I schedule many meetings for the evenings when my kids have gone to bed. I also often have interviews or meetings on the weekends, but I also try to make sure I leave plenty of time for family connection. It’s an interesting juggle, but it works! I rely heavily on my Google calendar to keep it all organized.
What has been your biggest business struggle working as a Doula?
The flow of clients is not always the same from month to month. Some months I’ll get 10+ inquiries, and then other months I’m wondering how to better market my business in order to create more interest. The other ongoing stress is having childcare options worked out, not knowing what time of day or night they’ll be needed. When my husband travels, I have very generous and lovely friends who are on call to come over to my house in the wee hours and get my kids dressed and to school if needed!
What are your three favorite websites or blogs?
1) Austin Mama
2) Facebook— it’s great for personal and professional connection (and somewhat addictive!)
3) CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services)
Their mission is to promote a mother- and baby-friendly wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs.
What advice would you give to an aspiring Doula?
Find your passion and follow it! I love the quote “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
Would you like to work as a Doula? Check out FabJob's guide on How to Become a Doula.
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