Pros & Cons of Being A Doula??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 10-02-2003, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all... my local hospital has an upcoming training to become a doula. I am very excited about it, and have thought a lot over the past couple of years of becoming a doula. The program at the hospital is an intensive training, and then you basically volunteer to be a free doula at the time a woman goes into labor. The hospital asks each laboring woman if she would like a doula to attend her birth... you sign up for days/times to be "on call"... so you are not hired by a specific person, and you don't know them ahead of time, but I thought it sounded like a great program, and it's a good start! I thought I would start out this way, and if it's something that I truly want to do, I will continue and become DONA certified and become a professional doula. I am wondering if anyone would share their personal pros and cons with me.

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#2 of 8 Old 10-03-2003, 09:55 AM
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you'll be doing something you love and are probably passionate about.

You'll be doing something worthwhile, that really helps someone in a life-altering way!

All those beautiful births and babies!

Cons (for me anyway)-

Probably won't ever make enough $$ to support a family, at least not around here

Being on call is hard somethimes, and you can miss out on bdays, holidays, etc...

birth can go for days, so it's draining at times

So you'd be certified through the hospital? How would that work? Do you then have to promote the hospital's philosophy, regarding medication and managment etc..?

Sahm mom to three lovely girls, and happily married to a great, sweet guy
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#3 of 8 Old 10-04-2003, 11:18 PM
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Ditto on the previous poster's pros and cons, plus consider this re: hospital births:

You will see some really awful stuff in the L&D sometimes. Possibly a lot of the time. There will be many times you will have to bite your tongue until it bleeds, and there will be disappointments when you KNOW a woman could have had a great, hands-off birth and you see it all going wrong in front of your eyes..and there's not much you can do about it. Doulas are there to support the mother no matter what her birth outcome turns out to be like, and though you can advocate for her, you can't exactly contradict the OB/nursing staff, even when you know you are right.

I don't know if I'm explaining that well. I still think, that despite these things, one can continue to serve as a hospital-based doula knowing that in many cases they DID make a difference, often just to the mother's point of view, her experience. Then again, especially when you show up for a client that you've never met, sometimes they can get really hostile and take their frustration out on you, because they know you can't (or aren't supposed to) bail on them. That's a protective reaction from a scared mother to be, but it can be upsetting to you if you let words get to you.

OK. That's all for the negatives. The bottom line is, you WOULD be on the "helping" side, and you would have your moments of triumph, which to me, is what a good fulfilling job is all about. If you have a thick skin and a philosophical attitude, I say go for it
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#4 of 8 Old 10-05-2003, 11:56 PM
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Hi Wendi –

I’ve been thinking about your post for a couple of days, and wanted to put in my 2-cents worth.

First of all, let me say that I am a new doula, and an all-volunteer doula – presently I do this as a ministry and not for money. I do this work for single parents that don’t have money, or for very-young single moms that are choosing to carry their babies to term. I have two reasons I volunteer for this – I have a fulltime, well-paying job already in the computer industry, and the pay for doulas is . . . (heehee) well, yeah. Second, if being a doula is my job instead of my form of prayer & pleasure, it seems would become just “one more thing” that I have to do and thus I would lose the enjoyment of it – don’t know if that makes sense or not.

But working as a volunteer for a hospital, after the hospital-doula training course, made me a bit cautious. Being around birth is to witness miracles, and in this sense it would be worth it. However, does the hospital want volunteers to fill in for the nurses that they are not hiring? To me that just doesn’t seem right. Also I, like HeatherE, have to ask whether your will be supporting the mom or supporting the hospital procedures.

You also might be interested in knowing that, for certification purposes, DONA requires that “ . . .labor support must begin before or at the onset of the active phase of labor (defined as 4 centimeters).” So, it might be that the hospital labors won’t be qualified births for DONA certification purposes.

Good luck with your passion ~ so good to be reminded that there are such caring people out there!
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#5 of 8 Old 10-08-2003, 01:50 PM
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I agree with the previous posters, I loved being a doula because it was something I enjoyed, I didn't care about the long hours, low pay, etc... I just loved helping women be fulfilled. However those long hours & low pay catch up with you, and thats why I only do childbirth ed. now.
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#6 of 8 Old 10-08-2003, 05:26 PM
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I agree with the pros and cons from all the posters. I, too, am plunging into this passion. I have felt it in my entire soul to help woman and families have a birth they desire.

I have had so many thoughts running through my head about all of this. I say, absolutely check out the hospital program. Go cautiously for the above reasons, but I don't feel anyone, regardless of the intensity of their desire to have a natural childbirth deserves to have someone by their side devoted completely to them and their well-being.

I think it is a great start. You will probably find though that you are going to want to be "hired" by the couple (as opposed to the hospital) so that you can "fight" for the couple's desires if it is not hospital policy. I live in a location where it is nearly unheard of to have homebirths so I will be participating largely in hospital births.

We have to all start somewhere though. From my perspective, I just want to get into births and start helping with whatever I can. We will learn more and more through practice and sharing. So, I say, definitely check it out. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Best wishes for your kind heart! Keep helpin the mamas!
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#7 of 8 Old 10-10-2003, 01:08 AM
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Being an independent doula, you get to meet the parents, go over what type of support they want, birth plans, caregivers, educate them. work for the hosp. , don't get to meet them, and you will usually put $ out for childcare or what have you.

I have been in situations where a dr. is just an idiot and the doula can't help all that much in making it a great experience. I won't put myself in that situation.

HOWEVER, 14 years ago, I would have loved a doula although I had husband and mom there. I needed knowledgable support. Them nurses cared more about talking at their station than helping me get through transition. I still see this happening. They come in and talk about where they are going for lunch while mom is trying to get through labor. As a doula, your job is to redirect the attention on her......." Everyone will be quiet know, you'll be holding that baby very soon." Things like that, they usually get
the hint. They forget this is a once in a life time thing for mom and dad, but an everday occurance to them.

I love being my own doula, hired by the parents. When I get up
in the middle of the night, I know they carefully selected the
careprovider, basically have put effort into getting the experiece
they want.

$ is not the issue for me, I have bartered and worked for free. All I ask is that parents meet me half way.


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#8 of 8 Old 10-10-2003, 09:59 AM
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Wendi, I think it is great that your hospital wants to offer every birthing woman the services of a doula, and are offering the training free! I do agree with the other posters that working for the woman/couple is the ideal, but like you said you can get your feet wet this way and get some experience and eventually get yourself certified as a professional doula and work independently of the hospital.
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