My first year as a doula
Before I started working as a doula, I signed to do training with Birth Bliss Academy. Kicki was an amazing teacher I was captivated by the whole experience. There was a mammoth amount of pre-course and post-course coursework which increased my knowledge and understanding vastly. I found the course to be such a positive experience. It was such a supportive environment and although not everyone had the same opinions, we were united by the idea of having a choice and supporting choice.
I was worried that I had made quite an abrupt decision to become a doula and it might not be for me. However, after actually coming to the course it confirmed to me that this is something I definitely want to do. It made me more mindful and aware of the processes of birth and the benefits of support and what I could do for a woman in that situation.
Full of passionate and excited I didn’t even think about the practicality of it all. I wondered if there was a client base for a doula like me or if anyone would be interested in hiring me. When I got the first enquiry I was so excited. Then another one came and another one. I currently get up to 15 enquiries a month. Now I use a database to follow all my leads and plan my interviews so I don't get mixed up.
Learning to respect my time
One thing I learnt fast was the value of my time. With a wealth of knowledge to share. I enjoy talking to women about birth and often give more time than I intended to. I’d spend hours on the phone or at initial meetings, researching specific things, debriefing past experiences, sending links and organising things for women who were not my clients. Basically, working for free! It needed to stop I was exhausting myself doing work for women who had no intention of hiring me. Now I am very careful with my time I only go over and above for my actual clients who value my time and energy.
My fee is one of the hardest things that I have had to develop. When I first became a doula I really wanted to help as many women as possible. But I quickly realised that it was not sustainable. I realised I could easily end up taking a client and it costing me more to do it than they have paid. Basically, working at a loss! When I took a closer look at the commitment, I was making a realised I needed to value my time more. You can read more about this on the 'How do much doulas cost' blog
I decided to do some further training to continue my development as a doula. The first training I did was the KG Hypnobirthing Diploma. There are several different schools which enable you to become a Hypnobirthing teacher. I chose KG because of the recommendations from other doulas I knew. I really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot. I then went on to do training in Aromatherapy for Childbirth, Evidenced Based birth®, eating disorders and pregnancy and a Spinning Babies® Workshop. My favourite of all the further training was by far spinning babies. I learnt so many useful techniques to help women.
Summary of the year
This year I had the privilege of working with 13 beautiful families (2 as part of shared care). I supported 11 Birth Clients who planned to give birth in a variety of settings (4 at home, 6 in a midwife-led unit and 1 in a labour ward). In 2018 I had 2 Postnatal Clients. One who wanted some postnatal support with her twins and another who wanted someone to support her overnight after a c-section. My clients were from a diverse range of backgrounds and tended to be in their 30s. Every birth was unique and wonderful.