BECOMING A BIRTHWAYS DOULA
New to Doula Work
What kind of people make great doulas? People who:
- Want to serve their communities by providing support to women and their families
- Seek work that is heart-centered, blending interests in science and medicine with truly connected caregiving
- Are exploring a career in lactation, midwifery, obstetrics or maternal-infant health
- May have felt under-supported at their own birth(s) or as a new parent and want to help others
- Had empowering birth, postpartum, lactation experiences and want to give back and support others
- Might be massage therapists, social workers, and chiropractors who want to expand into birth work
- Are RNs and Labor & Delivery Nurses who want to give more dedicated time to being with the laboring woman and her family than hospital settings allow and/or providing support in-home to families during the postpartum time
- Are parents wanting to supplement family income
- Are interested in reproductive health, women/gender studies
- Are students building a resume or exploring ways to support and empower women and families
- People who resonate deeply with all things birth, breastfeeding, parenting related
- Are looking for a new career path, ready to follow their hearts
Do I want to be a postpartum or labor support doula? Can I do both?
Birthways has opportunities for professionals that support families in a variety of ways. Our two core services are labor support and postpartum doula care. You might apply to work on one or both teams. We also offer childbirth education classes, lactation support, massage therapy, private consultation, and on-call childcare for our families. Opportunities for doulas to grow, expand upon their skills, and support families beyond doula care make Birthways a fantastic place to work!
What do Postpartum Doulas do?
While every family’s support needs are different, and each day is never the same, postpartum doulas may provide some combination of the following:
- Providing emotional support for new mothers, their partners, and children
- Screening for mood disorders and providing resources as needed
- Providing evidence-based information as needed to help parents in caring for their babies, making decisions, and finding their own path in parenting
- Helping with infant care, including both child care and instruction on feeding, sleeping, hygiene, safety, and more
- Providing lactation support, including demonstrating latch, positioning, and educating new mothers on supply & demand, establishing a supply, how to gauge satiety, what to expect in the early weeks and months, help with pumping and/or returning to work, proper formula feeding, and more
- Helping with household tasks, such as light cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, errand running, etc.
- Sibling care and adjustment for older children
Labor Support doulas meet with expectant parents in pregnancy, and help them prepare for the birth of their babies.
- Doulas are knowledgeable about nutrition during pregnancy, evidence-based practices and typical hospital interventions during labor, stages of labor, comfort measures, pelvic health, calming strategies and pain relief, partner support, and coaching throughout the birth process.
- Doulas are the cheerleader and advocate for laboring mothers, and serve as the guidepost through a new experience and unfamiliar territory.
- Doulas support both the laboring mother and the partner as much as or as little as they wish, taking an active role or a passive backseat when appropriate.
- Doulas are diplomatic and unobtrusive in the delivery room, and help facilitate a dialogue between the mother, partner, and healthcare team.
- Doulas stay throughout labor, delivery, and the early postpartum hours to help with breastfeeding initiation and getting the new family settled in.
- Our doulas are familiar with the birth centers and area hospitals in Chicagoland, and come highly recommended by many local practitioners, both midwifery and obstetrical practices alike!
- Our Labor Support doulas enjoy the role of educator and guide during the prenatal visits, and connect deeply with mothers during labor. It’s a special privilege to bear witness to women finding their inner strength and becoming mothers. It’s an intense and incredibly rewarding profession!
Is doula work right for me?
Consider the following:
- Are you interested in and passionate about supporting women and their families throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum?
- Are you willing to learn, read, attend trainings and workshops and grow as a doula?
- Are you willing and able to provide evidence-based, non-judgmental information and support to new and expectant parents?
- Can you work respectfully and diplomatically with clients’ healthcare providers, helping facilitate dialogue and understanding?
- Can you respond promptly and consistently with administrative staff as appropriate, and be proactive in communicating with clients as expected?
- Can you be an active member of our community by attending events and case reviews, participating in educational conversations on our group email, and serving as backup to your fellow doulas when needed?
- Do you possess the self-awareness and motivation to reach out for support, clarification, and guidance when needed?
If so, then Birthways may be right for you!
There are many different ways to start your journey as a doula. While Birthways might be a wonderful fit for some candidates wanting to work within our organization, others may work well independently. For those of you just getting started, you may find the following links helpful:
DONA International, CAPPA, and ToLabor are all fantastic doula training organizations that may help you get started. Chicago Volunteer Doulas is another wonderful local non-profit organization that can help you quickly gain experience.