Question from a doula-in-training - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-17-2012, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I just started on the path to become a DONA certified doula, and I have been doing the readings and taking the classes I need to - but that is the easy part! As part of the certification I need to attend 3 births as a doula, and I'm not sure how to go about that.


How do I find someone who wants a totally inexperienced volunteer doula? I feel bad just jumping into an experience as important and intense as that, like I won't know what to do with myself and I'll annoy the mother ;) I have had a child myself so I have at least some idea of what it can be like, and I do think of myself as a calm and supportive person.

Would it be a good idea to try and shadow another doula first? I will be moving somewhere (Bozeman, MT) that I don't think has a very high demand for doulas, and there is probably only 1-2 of them in town so I'm not sure what the chances of that are, or even of finding people that want a doula at all. Any thoughts?

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#2 of 6 Old 08-17-2012, 01:19 PM
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I am a new doula myself.  I belong to a volunteer group that attends births.  It is coordinated by someone who is part of a local birth focused type of community center where they rent out space for lots of classes.  There is also a local hospital that has a volunteer program where doulas work in 12 hour shifts.  Try googling local volunteer doula programs.  The instructor who taught my doula training forwards requests she gets from expectant moms looking for volunteer doulas.  I would talk to your instructor about this.  She may do it if she is local. 

There are more experienced doulas who may let you shadow them but this can be difficult to set up because the mom has to agree to it also.  If she already has several people attending her birth, having one extra could be an issue.  Plus, you won't get credit for the birth for your certification unless you are the lead doula. 

If the resources above are not available to you, I would try getting to know other doulas in your area.  Maybe there is an online group you can join.  Sometimes professional doulas may be approached by clients who need a volunteer or low-cost doula who they cannot help and they will refer those clients on to newer doulas.  You could also try going to a prenatal yoga class and asking the teacher if you can volunteer your services to her students.  Good luck!

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#3 of 6 Old 08-17-2012, 11:57 PM
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I'm in the same position,,,I'm hoping to advertise myself as a volunteer Doula in training after I finish my workshop and see if I get any response. Good luck!

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#4 of 6 Old 08-20-2012, 08:23 PM
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Some hospitals offer volunteer doulas - either shift work, where you meet the client for the first time when she's in labor and stay until baby is born, or a doula/client matching program where you work with the volunteer client as you would a paying client (meet several times before EDD and then meet up when in labor). 


Other options:


  • contact an organization that serves teen moms and meet with the case manager to volunteer your services as a trained professional support person


  • post ads on Craigslist and local parenting forums and this site volunteering your services


  • put ads up in local baby stores, co-op grocery stores and places of worship



Many people want a doula but can't afford to pay for one.  Good luck - you'll get your births.  :)

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#5 of 6 Old 08-23-2012, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the great suggestions!!

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#6 of 6 Old 08-23-2012, 12:57 PM
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Hey Oread, I am a new doula myself, and I thought I would share with you my list of places that I plan to advertise (well, place flyers, business cards, make personal connections, etc.) 


Whole Foods and other co-op, natural/organic "health food" stores

Local juice bar
Yoga studios that offer pregnancy yoga
Local OB/GYN famous for his belief in and advocacy for natural birth
Coffee shops
Spas that offer pregnancy massage
My chiropractor's office
Acupuncturists, herbalists, other natural healers
Breast feeding groups, like LLL
My stepson's school 
BIRTH--The Play is coming to ATL, so I bought a ticket
Unitarian Universalist church
I also contacted our local teen pregnancy prevention advocacy group and asked for more info on signing  up with their volunteer doula program (per the suggestion of PokeyAC!) Good luck, I hope you get lots of response smile.gif
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