Since 2014, YBE has offered a fresh perspective on holistic childbirth education, reaching families in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Japan and the U.S. Virgin Islands! In 2017, we expanded this groundbreaking curriculum to include Breastfeeding and Baby education, as well as the YBE Equip Advanced Doula Training and the YBE Doula Training and Certification program. After our first YBE Doula retreat in November of 2017, we've revamped our approach even more to make this curriculum as accessible as possible to a wider audience of hungry birth professionals!
If you're researching doula training, you've probably noticed there are a LOT of organizations and training programs out there. A decade ago, there were only a handful, mostly comprised of the original organizations involved in researching and establishing the doula profession; in 2017, there are dozens available, with YBE Doula Training and Certification joining the ranks. There are a variety of mindsets, philosophies, and training methods, some of which you can do completely online without even attending an in-person workshop. How on earth do you know which one is best?
In honor of International Doula Month, I feel compelled as I often do each year to write a blog post both celebrating the work I do alongside many other birth workers, as well as promoting awareness of this truly crucial vocational field. But before I tell you about what I AM going to discuss, I should tell you what I’m NOT going to discuss.
What do I do as a doula? I show up and I bring my heart. Read on to see what I mean by that!
As a birth worker and adult managing ADHD, I've found myself drawn to methodical and mindful activities that require me to slow down and pay attention. It's healing to the mind that is focused on EVERYTHING ALL. THE. TIME. And the rewards of working and cultivating things are so very sweet. But as a doula and childbirth educator for a decade (I celebrate 10 years with DONA International this month!), I find even more meaning in the patience and awareness these activities cultivate in me.
Is infant formula a safe substitute for breast milk? What formula is best for my baby? Do I really have to boil water or sterilize bottles? What are the dos and don'ts in preparing powdered formula?
You may be reading this article because you’re concerned about safety and want to know if you are unknowingly putting your baby at risk. Maybe your knee jerk reaction is to assume you’re about to read a super judgy blog post from some know-it-all, holier-than-thou doula shaming you for your choice to supplement or cease breastfeeding.
So what's the big secret about infant formula?
Childbirth educators currently have quite a challenging task. According to Listening to Mothers III, only "one-third (34%) of women reported taking childbirth education classes during their recent pregnancy' . This means there are many families who receive little to no preparation for childbearing and parenting, and of the parents who do take childbirth classes, not all of them truly grasp and retain the information that could be most helpful to them. As a doula and childbirth educator with a degree in education, I can attest to the fact that HOW people learn is every bit as important as WHAT they learn.
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens in the world of professional childbirth work that I like to think of as the Big Sister Effect. It’s a natural thing that happens inside us as humans when people we care about experience difficult things and something inside us rises up and wants to defend and protect them. This is actually a physiological and evolutionary response that is good for the human race, and yet, it can get us into a world of hurt. Many feel this kind of emotional attachment is unwarranted in professional doula work, and I have a different view of it.
Most often, people think about the things doulas do during the actual birth such as position changes, back rubs and verbal encouragement, but the informational support is glazed over as if this act of giving information is a simple one. The truth is this: anyone whose role involves transmitting information is at some level an educator. Therefore, every doula is inherently a childbirth educator whether she realizes it or not.
The problem in choices in childbirth is they don’t make much sense if you don’t understand them. What this means in the childbirth arena is that it’s hard to decide whether or not you want something if you don’t know the risks, benefits and if, when, why, where and how it might be beneficial to you. The use of forceps might sound like a medieval torture device until you know they could save your baby’s life without the turmoil of cesarean as major abdominal surgery. When considering what kind of childbirth education you will pursue, be sure you are able to gain information about your choices in a way you can understand and assimilate into your worldview.
There are as many opinions about childbirth as there are people on the planet. The truth is, there is no right and wrong in childbirth; there is only what's right for you! But just how exactly do you find out what's right for you when there are so many options? Wouldn't it be great if there was a one-size-fits-all childbirth education curriculum so you could be guaranteed that you would get just exactly what you need out of it or at least know which way to go to find what you do need? If you are a birth professional, wouldn't it be great if you had a tool that you could use with every client to help them get the results they need? Sound like unicorns and rainbows? It might not be as far from reality as you think!
You see, while everyone else in the childbirth professional community and doula world is arguing about who's right, who's wrong, which organization to train with, which childbirth method is the RIGHT one, and why THEY deserve to get paid as professionals, Your Birth Experience Instructors are looking at the women giving birth, the ones who really matter.
I've got a secret for you: I can't make you a great doula. I created Your Birth Experience to show professional HOW to go from good to great but I can't do it for you. You have to choose every day to commit yourself to excellence and do better than you did yesterday. If you're committed to that, all you need is a system to support you, and one that gives you the "how" and the "why" so you can stop doing things that don't work and start seeing success in the lives of your clients and in your childbirth business.
Here's how to stop being a good doula and be a great one:
Using Your Birth Experience helps me do exactly that for my clients. I present the options available to them and give them the tools they need to see how their personality and decision-making processes speak to their birth goals so that each parter can determine what is most important to them and why. This way there is no need to be combative, just clear in communication. There is no need to have an inflexible agenda, but instead an informed plan that can be adjusted when unexpected factors arise. This program allows me to help clients synthesize their goals and desires in a way that nothing else can, and all while clearly and succinctly presenting them with all the options available to them.
Sometimes, even doulas need a doula.
Strike that, frequently doulas need a doula.
This job, which is full of passion and fulfillmentis also hard, hard work. Not only are you constantly spending energy mentally attuning and connecting to your clients, but you’re spending the physical energy supporting them--whether it’s during labor performing the famous double hip squeezes or staying up all night with a fresh new baby while his parents get a welcomed evening of rest. Add on to all of that the fact that when you treat this work like a business, you’re also investing all of the time and energy of an entrepreneur...Enter Your Birth Experience...
So, what gives? How can a woman still have a positive birth experience even when things don't go as planned? How can I as a childbirth educator and doula in Tulsa, Oklahoma ensure my students and clients have the most satisfying experience possible, when I cannot guarantee outcome or mode (vaginal or cesarean) of delivery? Well, that's where my divorce comes in...
Stick with me. I promise it's worth it.
This Labor Day I am celebrating the work I do to help women experience positive and meaningful birthing experiences and get what they want in childbirth, while also giving thanks for all those who have gone before me to do the same. Just as the Labor Movement sought justice for our nation and the workers who built it, the birthing movements of the past and present strive to make birth better for women. What I do is important, and the work women do to bring their babies into the world is also important.
Everyone at some point in his or her life has heard some variation of “do what you love and you will never work for a living again.” I believe this concept is at best misleading and at worst completely inaccurate. No matter what your passion is, turning it into a successful venture will require hard work and a need to do things that are scary, tedious, and sometimes just downright exhausting. Having spent the last four years working full time on my business, I have learned that I had to figure out how business works before I could make my passion my business. There have been successes and failures and a whole lot of learning...
There's something I do with many of my clients in labor. As a Birth Doula, I have the privilege of accompanying women and their families in that incredible, powerful, lonely, uncharted, spiritual, challenging and exhilarating journey called childbirth. Having been down the road many times before, I know what's coming. I may not know every stick and rock on the path, or what the weather will be like, but I know what is there, and I know what is at stake.
As Doulas or Childbirth Educators, you may have felt challenged in creating a sustainable income. Questions I see and hear often are:
- How do you make money as a doula?
- What should I charge for doula services or childbirth classes?
- How do I make my doula business profitable?
If you are a Doula or Childbirth Educator looking to increase the value of the services you offer and create a paycheck you're proud of, take a look at what Your Birth Experience offers.