Editor’s Note: If you are just starting your doula journey, don’t miss Penny’s previous post Nine Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Doula Workshop. — AG
The 8 Best Steps To Take After Your Doula Workshop
Your doula workshop (also called doula training) is an important first step in your journey to become a birth or postpartum support professional. Once you’ve attended your training, there are several steps to undertake before completing your doula certification. We asked DONA International approved birth doula trainer Penny Stansfield, who has trained over 1,000 doulas, to give us her top tips on the next best steps after your workshop. Feel free to share with others you know who are planning the next step in their doula journey.
- Read, read, read ….. By now, you will have read and studied the DONA International Position Papers (The Postpartum Doula’s Role in Maternity Care and The Birth Doula’s Contribution to Modern Maternity Care), Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Complete reading the books on the required reading list. If there are other birth and postpartum related books that spark your interest and are not on the required reading list, go ahead and read those too. The more books you read, the broader a perspective you will gain in your areas of interest.
- Study your manual. Your training manual is a valuable tool full of pertinent, useful and important information. Make a promise to yourself that within two weeks of attending your workshop, you will go through the manual page by page and consolidate the information through note taking or highlighting. I promise you that you will have several “aha” moments! You will read a paragraph and remember that a certain student mentioned this topic. Or perhaps you will read a paragraph and it will remind you of something your trainer said. Or you will make a connection between something you read in the manual and something else you recently read in a book or online. I suggest you create a one-page list of “Key Points from my Doula Training,” then laminate your list and pop it in your doula bag. Minutes before you join your first client, glance down your key points and refresh your memory.
- Start preparing materials for your business. Now is the time to start thinking about business materials and social media presence for your business. What are the key elements you need to bring awareness to your community? What do you need to create functional systems for your practice? Remember that you will need to watch at least one of the business webinars on the DONA website – choose one where you feel your knowledge and experience is lacking – or better still, watch them all!
- Network, network, network! Continue connecting with birth and postpartum doulas on social media and in-person. Stay connected to your fellow students. Make sure that your trainer supplies you with a class roster with every student who has given permission for their information to be shared. Students often connect deeply during the workshop, and some choose to go into business together if they live in close proximity. Find out if there are doula agencies or businesses in your area that might be hiring doulas. Now that you have attended your workshop, you will be able to talk confidently and knowledgeably about doulas. Now is a good time to start connecting with health care providers – obstetricians, midwives and pediatricians in your area. Arrange to attend one of their staff meetings, bring their favorite lunch to the meeting and give a short presentation on how doulas can benefit their practice and on your business in particular. Leave brochures and business cards with them and follow up a week or two later with a second visit. Making face-to-face professional connections will enable you to move forward in your business goals.
- Finish your resource list. By now, you should have made a good start on your resource list from your work on it both before and during the training. Students from the same town often get together after the training and hash out their resource list together, sharing information and assigning specific categories for a particular student to investigate. A few weeks later, they meet again and pool all the information, discussing each provider/listing in detail. Your resource list is going to be a valuable tool for you and your future clients.
- Be focused. Your next major step towards certification will be to find birth or postpartum clients. This is the beginning of your career as a birth or postpartum doula. Make sure that your family and friends understand your commitment and are prepared to support you.
- Be prepared for personal growth. After your doula workshop, you will have a tribe of new friends and colleagues and a trainer who is available to mentor you through completing the certification process. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone as you move forward on your doula journey. Seek support from your trainer and fellow doulas if you hit a tough patch.
- ENJOY! Combining your passion for this profession with your newly acquired knowledge and skills with hard work and you will be a success!
Penny has been a DONA International birth doula and approved birth doula trainer since 1997. She has trained over 1,000 doulas in over 100 workshops all over the US. She is also a board certified licensed massage therapist and teaches prenatal massage at the graduate level. She lives in Tucson, AZ.