What Kind of Doula are You?
A doula is a trained person without an emotional attachment to the family, offering supportive services in an unbiased, nonjudgmental way. A doula provides physical educational and emotional support during pregnancy birth and the postpartum period.
But all doulas are NOT created equal.
Just like hairdressers specialize in color, cutting, up-dos, etc., doulas have specialties too. Now keep in mind, you can’t be a licensed hairdresser if you can’t give a proper haircut, carefully mix and apply color and put the finishing touches on your client for a special occasion but surely, you’ll be more passionate and feel more capable at one over the others.
A cosmetology license is earned by someone capable in each category but once licensed, each hairdresser finds his or her area of expertise and that is what he or she becomes best known for.
When you become a doula you will also find that one “type of support” resonates most naturally for you.
Let’s break down the three areas of expertise doulas possess so that you may begin to understand what “type of doula” you are.
The Doula Education Specialist:
This doula is enthralled in the “why.” She or he must know the why behind all things birth and postpartum and the client of this doula practically has a “birth encyclopedia” by their side.
This doula is immediately aware when a new study is released, recommendations are changed, protocol is changed, etc.
She or he is personally driven to research and “collect” the most current, up-to-date information possible. They are inquisitive and want to discuss and question information that is presented. They do not take someone else’s word for it, instead they find evidence that supports an idea or they dismiss it as false.
This type of doula is a tremendous asset to clients who are seeking the evidence based knowledge they feel is necessary to make the decisions that are best for them.
However, this doula must be careful that they don’t “over-educate.” All people are not the same. They do not all function the same. They do not all make decisions the same way. And they do not all require evidence based information when making decisions
The Doula Emotion Specialist:
This doula is connected to the emotions associated with birth and the transitions being made as a family grows. They love the connections they witness and easily attach or attune to the needs of the client when they are sorting out their emotions.
This doula asks questions about how the client is feeling, encourages deep discussion and has patience and understanding as big feelings are being navigated.
He or she is a great asset to clients who are deeply emotional and enjoy exploring their feelings as they evolve. Pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period can heighten a woman’s emotions and a doula “emotional specialist” can be a valuable resource during this explorative time.
This doula must recognize that all women do not deeply acknowledge their emotions. While one woman might truly enjoy being encouraged to discover and release emotions another may feel it is an invasion of their privacy to be asked to open up in this way.
As always, having an understanding of who your client is and what they might need is imperative to being a valuable support person.
The Doula Physical Specialist:
The doula physical specialist believes strongly in the power of touch and also considers posture and position a strong asset to birthing women. This doulas physical presence is strong and comforting (to those seeking this type of support).
When it comes to a hug, massage, counter pressure, a hip squeeze, etc. this doula is who you want in your corner, however, not all women want to be touched during labor.
Some prefer a doula to simply, “be present” for them during labor and birth. They are not comfortable with touch and find it intrusive or irritating.
Some women are very comfortable with touch when they are not in labor but become completely distracted by it during labor.
Again, as a doula, you must have the ability to interpret the needs of your client and offer the support that she seems to need in the moment.
Become a doula but also remember to be a well-rounded doula. Know your clients and understand their needs. Enjoy providing the support that you are intuitively driven towards but be sure your clients educational, emotional and/or physical needs are being met.
If the educational side of this work is most challenging for you, crack the books. Study!
Choose a doula certification organization like ProDoula, with a thorough and rigorous certification process after the initial doula workshop.
Once completed, your doula certification packet will act as a great resource for you. It will be filled with all of the educational information that your clients might require.
Your doula training workshop will include hands on exercises that will help you become more comfortable with touch or increase your skills when providing physical support.
A doula workshop is a place where new and/or seasoned birth workers have an opportunity to explore their feelings about pregnancy, labor, birth and early parenting. Emotional dialogue is shared and attendees leave with a wide range of examples of how people feel about birth. This will help build or expand on your abilities to provide exceptional emotional support.
You want to be a well rounded doula? Become a doula with a well rounded doula certification organization!