Doula Training In Australia – How To Become A Doula

Doula Training In Australia - How To Become A Doula

For some women, the call to work with birthing women may appear after birthing their own children.

For others, it may have been simmering in the back of their mind for some time.

No matter how the call might come to you, birth support skills can be found inside any one of us and can be significantly enhanced by attending various doula training courses offered around Australia and online.

The first question you will likely have is, do I really have what it takes to become a doula?

The answer is an emphatic yes!

Women have supported women during childbirth from the earliest of days – well before there were hospitals or obstetricians. But because all women were illiterate back then, they were unable to record their experiences with childbirth.

Of course, women still support women in labour, and we're now seeing doulas gaining popularity in a big way in Australia, and around the world.

After giving birth to my second-born without drugs (something I assumed would be an impossible task after such a painful, induced first birth) I realised it was the words of those around me that had gotten me through the harder parts of the birth, without pain relief.

So I figured, if I could do this, then so could so many other women out there who wanted a natural birth – but didn't have the support or confidence to do so.

 

If you'd like an in-depth look into what life is like as a doula, grab a copy of my well endorsed, comprehensive ebook, Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know.

Important Things To Consider Before Starting Doula Training

Below are three of the most important factors to consider when deciding to train as a doula.

#1: Who Is Going To Support Me While I Support Women?

This is a huge consideration which is important to discuss with friends, family and especially your partner, because babies don't arrive on anyone's schedule but their own.

By the time the birth comes around, you would have built a trusting relationship with a woman and her partner – and she's relying on you to be there.

Most doulas use back-ups, but it's best as a last resort, for example, if you're at another birth or have gastro.

Everyone wants to be supported by the person they've paid for and formed a relationship with.

It's critical to be reliable, which is why I stopped doula'ing for quite a while as a single mother. Due to almost missing a birth after having unexpected problems sorting out childcare, I felt I couldn't offer the rock solid security a heavily pregnant woman and her (usually nervous!) partner wants and needs.

While you might choose to do just one or two births per month or less (it doesn't sound like much, but it can be more emotionally and physically consuming than you think!), consider, do you have the support to do this work?

#2: Will I Cope With On-Call Work?

You can never predict when a woman might go into labour, so do you think you would be able to work to a completely unpredictable timetable?

Even if you only support two births a month, they may end up on the same day, which does happen to some doulas! Not often, but you need to be realistic and prepared.

Being able to organise yourself and your family at short notice is an important skill to have, because a woman in labour needs you NOW and baby is NOT going to wait!

You also need to be able to put any party plans on hold if a birth is coming up – no celebratory drinks in case that phone rings.

Would you be perfectly happy to have an unpredictable work schedule, usually being called in the middle of the night?

#3: What Are My Motivations For Being A Doula?

If you decide to try this work simply because you love the idea of all those babies, you need to realise being a doula is about the woman (while supporting her partner too). She needs to be your focus.

There's nothing more off-putting to a pregnant woman or new mother than someone who is wrapt up in the idea of babies when mama needs your support and presence the most.

If you're hoping doula work will bring you lots of money, it will take some time before you can build up your business and have it replace income. Remember, you're starting a business, not creating a job, so your success will depend on you working on your business as well as in it.

If you have a young family, the nature of birth work means you will probably only be able to physically and mentally manage one or two births a month without compromising the quality of your work (and your energy!).

So if you don't have the passion and drive for birth work and don't understand the idea of being with woman, it will be exhausting work for you. I'd recommend going and finding something you are passionate about.

Stories From Experienced Doulas

I interviewed some experienced doulas to see how they received their call to birth work and their thoughts around it.

It was particularly important for me to share this with you, as proof that we all may come from completely different backgrounds, yet we are all very capable of becoming doulas.

Isis on Being a Doula

When I spoke to Isis, she was a mama living in Victoria with two children under five.

She had come from a background in administration and customer service, but made the decision to become a stay at home mother since her daughter's birth.

Isis felt called to birth work following the verbal support she received from a birth attendant, while planning for her son's birth. It was then that I realised I wanted to help other women, as I felt the support I received had made such a huge difference.

It was then that I realised I wanted to help other women, as I felt the support I received had made such a huge difference.

Isis began her Doula training online, and felt the training she received had adequately prepared her for birth work. “It gave me more tangible facts and practices to work with. It also helped me to understand more about myself and my beliefs and how they affect my work,” she said.

Isis attended her first birth as a doula in September 2004 and has been certified since February 2005.

What do you love most about being a doula?

“Being able to empower women to having a birth that is truly theirs. No matter the factors that make up the birth, seeing my clients working with their care providers is priceless. Plus witnessing a new life join us here in this world is a true wonder.”

What are the most difficult things about being a doula?

“Ignorance of what a doula is and what they offer to both birthing women and medical professionals. Also trying to be an advocate for a birthing couple when my experience is still being gained. Being an advocate without ruffling feathers is an intricate art!”

How do you balance work/home/family life?

“I have an extremely supportive husband and wonderful friends who are happy to help out. Admittedly, I don't take on many clients, so the time away from family and disruption to routines isn't great. The trick is to not overextend yourself. Most prospective clients understand the fact that a doula usually has a family herself, so setting the limits and being up front about availability and commitments is the key.”

How many births do you attend per month?

“Currently, I attend one every couple of months. That is an ideal number for me, there is little chance of being called to two labours at the same time and there is little disruption to my own life. Perhaps once my children aren't so little, I will take on one every month, yet backup arrangements with another doula would be needed.”

Can you describe the most memorable birth you attended?

“It was a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) with a 42 year old woman, who was an total inspiration. She:

  • Negotiated to cruise past her due date by two weeks
  • Quelled hospital worries over a ‘small' baby
  • Suggested induction alternatives that the hospital hadn't used for years
  • Was powerful and in control of her augmented (sped up) and monitored labour
  • Seemed to be in the early hours of active labour, when all of a sudden she hit second stage and pushed her baby out, into her husbands hands.

To witness her journey to achieving a VBAC, when she had so many hurdles to navigate was a true honour. This birth of course is followed closely in memorability by the first birth I supported at, a waterbirth of a 10lb baby girl, unmedicated, unintervened, a totally pure birth!”

Some books Isis recommends for potential doulas:

Heather on Becoming a Doula

When I interviewed Heather, she was a 29 year old mum from Western Australia, also with two children under five.

Prior to becoming a doula, she was working in the hospitality industry.

Heather received her call to birth work after deciding that she'd like to become a midwife. “I really wanted to help women and their families through their birth experience and to see if I liked doing it, as one day I wish to become a Midwife and thought being a doula would be a great stepping stone.”

Heather did her training with Australian Doulas in Western Australia, which was in-person and not online.

She also felt her training had prepared her very well for birth work. “It taught me the general physiology of birth, how to conduct myself, what to expect, what resources are available etc. But of course, actually being present at a birth teaches you many things as well,” she said.

What are the most difficult things about being a doula?

“I think the most difficult thing is being so passionate about the job but not getting much work. It takes ALOT of networking to get the doula word out there. Also, other difficult things are the very long hours, sometimes you are with a mum for 2-3 days. On some occasions, medical profession prejudice is difficult.”

How do you balance work/home/family life?

“I think the most important thing is having a very supporting partner and family. You have to be able to leave at a minutes notice and make sure everything runs smoothly after you have gone.”

How many births do you attend a month?

“I have attended three births in the last year, and that's with full-time networking, pamphlet dropping and doing doula talks on weekends.”

Can you describe the most memorable birth you attended?

“That's hard as they are all so special. To pick one I would have to say my first. It was a VBAC birth and the mum was doing incredibly well, but toward the end the baby's heart rate was dipping dramatically.

A caesarean was called for, but just as she was to be wheeled out of the room, the midwife announced that she saw a head. Mum-to-be asked me to go and look, as she didn't believe the midwife. There indeed was a head!

About 10 huge pushes later, mum birthed her beautiful baby boy just the way she wanted. Seeing her and her hubby on cloud nine was awesome.”

Some books Heather recommends for potential doulas:

Heather hopes that more women find themselves going along the doula path. More doulas mean more women being supported to achieve their birth intentions, and less hospital policy makers dictating how a natural process should be managed.

So you've read all this and are even more excited about becoming a doula than ever before, then birth work sounds like it might be for you!

If you'd like an in-depth look into what life is like as a doula, grab a copy of my well endorsed, comprehensive ebook, Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know.

Where You Can Train to Become a Doula In Australia

Recommended Reading

Three books which are great to read about the work of a doula are:

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. This means if you decide to make a purchase, BellyBelly will recieve a small commission. There is no extra cost to you, it simply helps support the running of BellyBelly.

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Last Updated: August 1, 2017

CONTRIBUTOR

Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.


One comment

  1. Hi, I am so glad I took time to read this. I’ve never felt so close to becoming complete in life as I find my true calling. I am a mother of 9 with 2 grandchildren. I have supported several women close to me and in family, but I never could put a name with this big passion that I have to always be apart of a childbirth experience. This article has enlightened so much within me. I cried to entire time while reading it. I know this is for me and I can hardly wait to started and to help my first family. Thanks so much for sharing it and being carefully detailed about the passion and responsibility of the role of this sort of caregiving.

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