I've been thinking about becoming a doula since I was pregnant with my son in 2009. I've read all of the books that all the certification courses require, done much research on the topic, and have attended one non-birth as a doula (pill abortion.) After I supported my friend through her abortion I realized that being a doula would be a wonderful profession for me because I'm compassionate, supportive, and knowledgeable. Another friend also asked me if I would attend her birth, and I told her I would be honored.
I know you don't have to be certified, but what are the pros? Cons?
I am speaking with a friend on Monday about my wedding photography (she's doing it for free) and her and her husband are pregnant with their first child. I offered to sit down with her and her partner and discuss me being their doula, and offered it free of charge as it would be my first actual birth that I would be attending.
In my eyes, compassion, support, and passion for what you are doing are good enough to be a doula, and if the mama and partner "click" with you and feel like you would be a valuable support system.
What are your thoughts on this?
At what point would you start charging? I want to offer my services to everyone, so I want to work on a sliding scale according to the families income and needs. I know I need experience first, which is why I am offering to do these ones for free, and I am also just passionate about birth and providing a wonderful support system for those who choose me.
Elijah Mercury (7/2009), TTC #2 with my new soon to be DH! Tattooed, 29 year old cancer survivor!
Sometimes you get a lot of clients through the organization you're certified with, but if you get your name out there and get word of mouth rec's you should be alright. I'd say charge a small fee right away, and after several births charge a full fee, perhaps on a sliding scale or recommend a range and let the clients decide. If it's small you aren't overcharging when you haven't got the experience, but they are invested in working with you and won't blow it off as easily. Like $20 to $50?
- potential clients know you have a certain base level of education and experience
- easier for potential clients to find you since your organization can refer them to doula's in their area
- often expensive and sometimes complicated and/or time consuming to get a certification
- the cost of certifications is often a barrier to low income and people of color, so you are supporting an organization taht is almost entirely composed of upper-middle class white women
- you may want or need to charge more for your services to cover the expense of getting a certification
I will probably become DONA certified because the midwifery school I want to attend requires it, otherwise I wouldn't get any sort of certification most likely. As a potential client, I don't care if they have a certification, I only care about how well we "click" and if they have some experience. The fewer clients you have had the less you should probably charge (or based on their income, need, etc). I know some people charge even their first client, but I would probably not charge at all until I've attended at least 3 births.
I would definitely do your first few births for free. Other than that I would say it depends on where you want to practice. I know some midwives that will only allow doulas that they know or have vetted to attend their home births or birthing center births. I do not know of any hospitals that ask doulas anything. I guess it would depend on where you live. I have been a doula for several of my friends, free of charge. They have recommended that I pursue it full time, but I would not be comfortable charging without certification (mainly because I am a licensed nurse). I have also only done birth support in a hospital environment,
"At what point would you start charging?"
Immediately. Yesterday. As soon as someone wants to use you. You are not under any obligation to offer your services for free because you have less experience. (What other job would you do for free because you're new?)
I think that, with the possible exception of mothers in extreme poverty, offering your services for free devalues what you have to offer. It feeds into the trend where people look for free/new doulas rather than paying a doula who charges money.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds
Even if you decide not to become certified, taking the same steps as certification (reading, classes, a certain number of births attended as labor support) will give you some experience. I would encourage getting some experience prior to holding yourself out as a professional doula.
I have volunteered as a doula many times, and at some point in my learning, being paid a nominal fee seemed appropriate, because as the doula - or doula in training -it cost *me* money to attend someone's birth (gas, lost time at work, meals, etc). One of the best experiences for me learning doula work was working with another seasoned doula. I learned so much that way. I happened to be called to a birth because I spoke the mother's language - who did not speak English - and the hired doula did not. It was so valuable to learn from a doula in her element. If you can find a way to shadow another doula at birth - I'd highly recommend it.
I disagree with charging professional fees prior to having some skills and/or certification. Learning a new skill or job usually costs the learner money. Be grateful for the opportunities to learn birth work. Learning these skills takes time and effort.
After 5-6 doula support services (prenatal visits, the labor and immediate postpartum, and home visits and lactation support), I think charging for your services may be appropriate. Learn as much as you can! You will be able to provide a valuable service to your clients!
Even if not seeking certification, I would highly recommend a doula training course, too.
Though it depends on how serious of a student you are, I agree that overall you should always charge a fee. I did two trainings and lots of reading and research and then charged. Certification is a scam to me (not to be too blunt). But it is not required and ANYONE can create a "certifying business" and say they certified you. I did do an inexpensive online cert. just so I can officially say I am certified. My clients value my trainings and personal philosophy far more than which cert. I got.