I am hoping that you all can help me organize my thoughts and figure out where I best fit in the world of birth professionals.
I started training as a birth doula in 2012, mostly because of my love for birth and my desire to support women during pregnancy and birth. I became pregnant in June 2012 and because of that, have only attended a handful of birth. I had my older son at a SABC and my daughter at home. As a doula I've only had the opportunity to attend hospital births, but I was fortunate enough to attend two homebirths as a midwife's assistant before my daughter was born. Since her birth (in Feb 2013) I've attended 2 more hospital births and am scheduled for 2 more before the end of the year. I realize that this makes me a relative newbie in the world of birth professionals. In addition to my doula work, I am a certified personal trainer with a specialty certification of working with prenatal and postpartum women. I've started exploring how to expand this service.
Here's my dilemma. I dislike hospital births. I am not comfortable in that environment and am not getting the fulfillment that I thought I would. My midwife assistant experiences have been better. I think this is also due to having more of a clinical roll, as I used to work in the medical field and crave that hands-on aspect. I've thought about going the midwifery route, but it's just not the best option right now due to having 2 small children. I love the idea of working as an assistant, but I don't know if that's the smartest idea seeing it usually doesn't pay anything. In addition, my daughter has some serious separation anxiety and is having a really hard time when I leave to attend births -- which for me tends to be 12+ hours.
I'm really struggling because I feel a huge pull to supporting women during birth, but I just don't know if being a doula is where I'm supposed to be. Should I consider a long road to midwifery -- studying, attending as an assistant, and eventually moving to an apprentice position? Or maybe explore just being a CBE and cherry-picking some HB doula clients? Or should I explore the fitness aspect more?
I would love some feedback and advice from those who have been through it all -- or may have be able to help make sense of the madness that is going on in my head right now. I know this was long, and I appreciate your reading it and offering anything -- even if it's something that I haven't mentioned. TIA!
I can sort of sympathize, in that I am a newly trained doula and I think hospital births are really going to get to me. On one hand, women having hospital births definitely need a doula the most, however it REALLY bothers me to see how they are disrespected, infantalized, frightened, and generally fed misinformation. So I am torn, because it is important that women get the best birth experience possible, regardless of where they give birth. But it also bothers me on an ethical level to stand by while they are mistreated.
I know some doulas who don't refuse all hospital births, but definitely refuse to work with certain care providers. So that may be an option if you discover there is just a specific handful of doctors you don't like working with.
I only have 1 child now, but we'll be adding another to our family soon but I still plan on diving into a midwifery program in 2-3 years. I am certain it is what I want to do, so I'm going to do whatever I need to make it work. Before that I'll most likely work on a childbirth educator certification, which would be good for a supplemental income but not enough to make a living.
Regarding the fitness aspect, I think its a great idea if you can make it financially feasible. I wanted pregnancy-specific workouts when I was pregnant, but something more challenging than prenatal yoga which I always found to be way to easy and boring.
It is a kind of rite of passage to go through these feelings as a new doula. I remember the frustration and fear I felt for each of my clients in various situations over the years. Countless times I've nearly quit because of it. However, I keep going back to the simple fact that they will have a better experience and will remember their birth with more confidence and joy if I'm there than if I'm not. Midwifery may be for you eventually...it seems to be for me. But don't let that keep you from helping women that want your help. Sniff out the good doctors and options for your moms...help them avoid by educating and encouraging empowerment. I hope you keep going.