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5 MORE Lessons Learned from 10 years of doula work

January 22, 2016

5 MORE Lessons Learned from 10 years of doula work

As it turns out, there are a few more lessons from my 10 years of birth doula work that I would love to share. If you missed the first set of 5 lessons, check them out here

1) Avoid negative doula relationships

I hear about doula drama a lot.  There is often talk about "this doula did this" or "that doula isn't doing this right" or "can you believe she is charging that".  Conversations like this are not productive and can even be hurtful to you or other doulas.  This drama is common in many areas of the country.  It is real and you can often feel like you can't get away from it.  

5 more doula lessons learned After a few negative experiences with doula drama, I made a change.  I removed myself from the situation. This means that I left several doula Facebook groups and avoided in person meetings that I knew were likely to end up with negative discussions and gossip.  The result was more free time (less time in Facebook) and a reduction of negativity.  In my life I choose to surround myself with positive people and this includes the doulas that I network with as well.  If you can't find positive doulas that will lift you up, inspire and support you locally go online. LESSON LEARNED!  Be selective in your doula relationships and avoid those which are negative. 

 2) Ace the Interview 

The interview process is so important. It is a great time for potential clients to get to know you and for you to get to know the potential clients.  I know many doulas have moved to phone interviews, but I still require an in-person interview.  In the last blog, I mentioned that it is important to not ignore red flags and many of these pop-up at the interview.  I can't properly assess the fit with potential clients over the phone and have had a few less than ideal situations as a result..  

If I determine that the client is a good fit for me then I really want to ace the interview.  I want to leave confident that I presented my best self during the one hour that we had together.  But this wasn't always easy for me.  It required that I prepare what I was going to say and even practice out loud or with a friend. Putting time and effort into the small elements of the interview like wardrobe and meeting location were also key components to an awesome interview.  LESSON LEARNED! Work at your interview skills and process and more clients will be hiring you after the interview. 

3) Sometimes I'm Just Plain Wrong

I've attended around 250 births and one would think that I pretty much know how birth works.  I've seen a lot and am pretty good at accessing things like 1) how far along my client is or 2) if my client is in transition and finally 3) if it's a good time to go to the hospital. But, just as I start to get this 'know-it-all' attitude I'll have a client that completely surprises me.  One that I am sure is in transition and yet she is only at 1cm. Or a client that seems like she is ready to push and yet is 4cm. Or one that is surely in early labor when in fact she is about to push. LESSON LEARNED!  Sometimes I am just plain wrong.  Labor is different for every woman and even differs from pregnancy to pregnancy. Things aren't always what they seem.  Now I like to tell my clients that I know a lot about labor, but there are times when I'm wrong.  I might suggest that we go to the hospital and come to find out it is too early.  What I can guarantee my clients is that I do my best, not that my best is always right. 

4) The Doula-Partner Relationship Can Be Magical 

When I started this work I had NO idea how much I would love working with partners.  I knew the value of a doula to partners.  I also knew that doulas in no way take the place of partners.  I just didn't expect that the relationship between a doula and a partner can be magical.  By magical I mean the ability to work together to meet all of the needs of a laboring mother sometimes without even talking.  So many times I have quickly developed a relationship with a partner and there becomes a seamless division of duties.  It is almost as if we are reading each others minds!  When doulas and partners work well together the support is amazing.  All members of the birthing team are working at their optimal level.  I love this experience. LESSON LEARNED! An incredible working relationship can be formed with partners that can be truly extraordinary. 

I have such a passion for the doula-partner relationship that I created a handout for my clients and offer it to all doulas.  If you are can purchase the regular version or get one customized with your company logo

5) Invest in Your Education...Wisely

I am firm believer that we should all continue to learn and grow.  The world of birth work is constantly changing and it is important to keep up to date.  I think we should all be continual learners! Two ways that I like to grow and learn is through continuing education programs and reading.   I love to learn through both in-person and online training.  I have enjoyed advanced doula training for learning more about the Rebozo and have learned a ton about Facebook Ads through an online course.  I also highly recommend and personally enjoy the educational opportunities available when attending conferences.  Conferences are a great way to learn a lot in a short time.  This style suits me well because when I travel for a conference I can devote time and energy to learning and not have the start and stop routine that happens when I have the distractions of work family and life on call. {I'll be at the DONA International Conference this July in Seattle and the Lamaze International Conference in West Palm Beach in October}  I have also learned that I need to actually put time and effort into my learning.  If I purchase an online course for example I need to complete it! If I attend a conference I need to pay attention in the sessions and take notes. LESSON LEARNED!  Investing in education is important and putting time AND effort into it is just as important.  

One education program that I am passionate about is the doula business training program that I created.  This program is called 100percentdoula and is open a few times a year for new members. 

Share a lesson that you have learned in the comment section!


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