We talk with many prospective doulas each month. After hearing similar themes amongst these calls, I have narrowed down some typical reasons why you should consider NOT pursuing this path.
1. You don’t believe that you are worth investing in education or training. This is the elephant in the room; most women who are exploring the doula path are also women who are interested in supporting other women. But you can’t support other women in their wishes, their desires when you, yourself, aren’t convinced of your own worth. Obtaining what YOU need (for most people it’s education, experience, wisdom and support) to get started in this work is crucial. If you can’t see that, ask for it and go after that, then you aren’t ready to serve others. YES money is a real thing and in a lot of ways, we can’t get away from this dominant system of exchange (maybe one day!). If you never have the drive to invest in your future, how do you imagine other women will also want to invest in theirs with you as their doula? These conflicting energetic patterns don’t go together. If, in the words of my mentor Donna Maria, money is love…then can you love yourself enough to figure out how to make this training reality for you? If you can’t or won’t or think it’s actually about dollars and cents, you are not ready. Real passion and determination doesn’t accept excuses, and money is the biggest excuse we see women making for when they don’t think they are worth it.
2. You think you NEED XYZ to be a doula. Substitute XYZ as certification, experience, the support of other doulas, etc. There ARE things you “need” to be a doula, but for better or worse, they come from the inside work, not the permission granted by anything external. You DO need to have looked at WHY you are in this work, what your gifts are, what your wounds and fears are, and this honesty with yourself is something no one else can do. Excuses like certification or approval from an outside source are just things people have made up to make other people feel like they can’t do it. Do you want the women you serve to approach birth in this way? Or do you want to have learned that the real answers are on the inside and be able to mirror that to women? For every restraint you put on yourself, you have limited your own creativity and self-worth that much more. There is no one way to do this; and we each have to do the work (support is helpful!) to figure out what WE need. One thing I do know is this: if anyone (organization, group or person) tells you that you MUST do something that pleases someone else to “get clients”, run the other way. You should not become a doula if you’re just going to be a quiet, compliant good girl because birthing women do not need any more of that. (On the other hand, we don’t need angry, aggressive, traumatized women as doulas either!)
3. You want to save the women from bad birth experiences. Many women enter the birth world with this intention (although well-meaning) but it is from a place of trauma or victim consciousness. We implore you (and support you through our program) to consider a different way. This “different way” is not commonly taught in doula programs, lest it compete with the more popular “as a doula you must serve everyone” martyr complex. Yes, as women we are powerful and doulas can be VERY influential (hence our desire to help create more). However, each of us has certain skills, desires, experiences that make us valuable in a unique way. No one needs you to save women; if you walk down the path of powerful leadership, you will inspire women to reclaim their power rather than to look to you, or anyone else as an authority. Be honest with yourself; if you have thought of doing this work so that you can save someone, take a look at that. Wanting to help is a genuine feeling. But having support and knowledge in truly informing who you are, who you want to serve, is CRUCIAL unless you want to be burned out and eventually hate being involved in birth at all.
As I mentioned, you may decide after self-reflection that you don’t actually want to be a doula. Often when we have excuses around something it’s because we don’t really want to do that something. Not deep down. There’s no shame in that. Or, we think we want to do it but we are scared or don’t understand how to work past these obstacles. No one can say but you; either there’s deeper work to be done, or maybe it’s time to let go of the dream and pursue what it is you really want.