Can I Shadow a Doula, Is That a Thing?

Shadow a doula

As a seasoned doula and doula trainer, I hear it asked all the time… Can I shadow a doula, is that a thing?

Let me tell you a little story which I think will lead us to the answer of whether or not you should shadow a doula.

My name is Lois Perks and I am a Licensed Practical Nurse.

When I was in school, I had to learn many techniques. In our clinical rotations, it was things like how to provide proper wound care and how to carefully administer meds. I became quite skilled in other nursing tasks as well.

I remember practicing giving injections on oranges. We gave each other our flu vaccines with a bit of confidence. But no matter how much learning we did, the thing we could not do while training was administer an IV on a patient who actually needed one.

We learned the proper technique for starting an IV and practiced on a plastic mannequin arm that felt nothing like a real person. We watched other nurses start IVs. 

As nursing students, we were expected to know the steps and do it, for our first time, on a real, live, human being (potentially in medical crisis) that we had never met before. 

My first patient in need of an IV was a 12-year-old boy. He was having an allergic reaction. 

The doctor looked at me and said “He needs an IV.” 

I panicked. I balked. And then… I refused. Simply because I had never started one on a real person before. 

The doctor was furious with me because I was wasting precious time. I, the trained professional, would not do my job; the job that I was trained to do. 

He had every right to be furious. 

Once the boy was taken care of and things had settled down, I had time to realize that I was furious with myself. 

I had been trained for this and I knew it was coming. 

Why couldn’t I just start the IV? 

What was I waiting for? 

I had seen IVs started.

I knew EXACTLY how to do it.

I had even practiced the technique on that stupid mannequin arm. 

So, what was stopping me??! 

It was 4 simple letters. F. E. A. R.

  • Fear of doing it wrong. 
  • Fear of harming the kid. 
  • Fear of not getting it right. 
  • Fear of failure…

The pressure felt like a mountain on top of me. 

But what’s funny is, I am not usually one that bows to fear. But that day, I did. And later that day, I decided that wasn’t good enough for me. I was determined to never, ever repeat this experience. I decided that day that if my trainer, my educator, my mentor said I was ready to perform a job that THEY trained me for, I would step up and do it!

Before that day ended, I grabbed the necessary equipment and I started an IV on myself. 

I proved to myself that I could do it. I created my own evidence and I believed it. 

After starting that IV, I quickly realized that I had the ability to do it the whole time. I had shadowed others and had “practiced” but when it came time to do it, without confidence, without belief in my own ability, without having some fear but doing it any way, none of that mattered.

What I needed was trust. 

  • Trust in myself. 
  • Trust in my ability to do my job. 

No amount of shadowing was ever going to give me that. I needed to do the job myself in order to believe I was capable of it. 

When you leave your ProDoula training, you will have everything you need to support your clients. 

You will have spent valuable time practicing your doula skills and you will have a knowledge base that will help guide you. 

The one thing we cannot give you, and that you MUST find within yourself, is trust. If you shadow a doula, you will NOT learn to TRUST YOURSELF. You will only learn to trust the doula you shadow…

That won’t help you no matter how many doulas you shadow…

Here’s my advice. Believe in yourself! Trust that you are a trained professional. Acknowledge that you can and will show up and provide incredible support. Don’t let fear hold you back. Find the confidence and go do your job. 

Stand tall. Stand proud. YOU ARE A DOULA!