By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
Many reasons for becoming a doula
As a birth doula trainer for many years, I have learned that there are a variety of reasons that people take a birth doula workshop. Some people want to support a friend or family member, others want to work professionally as a doula, a few just have always been interested in birth and want to learn more. L&D nurses take the class to beef up their labor support skills. There are people who are headed to advanced degrees like midwifery or obstetrics and this is a launching off point. The reasons for taking a doula training are as varied as the workshop attendees themselves.
From doula to midwife
I have met doulas who already know or soon discover that they have a strong yearning to be a midwife (or doctor). They long for the clinical responsibility and continued education that is ahead of them. They light up at the idea of being the health care provider for people through their pregnancies, the labor and birth and the first postpartum weeks.
Frequently, I meet a fellow doula during a birth or at a local doula meeting or around town, and they excitedly tell me that they were just accepted into midwifery (or medical) school. We have two local Certified Nurse Midwifery programs and a local Certified Professional Midwifery program as well as a medical school all within ten miles of each other. The doula might have been admitted to one of those programs or they may be doing a long-distance program or even relocating out of state to attend school. In a few short (long?) years, after huge expense, training and effort, they will be catching babies! I am happy for them and delighted for the families who will benefit from their care. I know it is a dream fulfilled for them.
A doula forever
Other doulas are sure and remain clear that they have no desire to be a midwife. They are happy and satisfied providing support to families as a birth doula and have no desire to have any clinical responsibility. I am one of those doulas. I have never wanted to be a midwife. Or a doctor. Not once. Not for a minute. Not ever. The thought of having clinical responsibility for someone (or two someones) scares me to death.
But do you know what thrills me to no end? Attending births with a midwife (or doctor) who I trained as a doula years before. There is something absolutely special in watching this doula turned health care provider expertly care for the laboring person and the baby. They are confident. They are knowledgeable. They are exactly the right health care provider to help this family welcome a new baby. It makes me immeasurably happy to see them in this role and I love working with them as I support my clients.
Do you want to be a midwife?
Are you currently a doula who dreams of becoming a midwife or doctor? How are you going about realizing your goal? Where are you at on this journey? Are you happy and satisfied in the doula role without any desire to become a health care provider? Can you share more about this? Do you feel completely satisfied with your role as a doula? If you were a doula and are now a health care provider can you reflect on how being a doula has helped you in your current profession? Our experiences and reasons for being a doula are as varied as we are. I would love to learn what is important to you. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Sharon for this post! I have been a doula in Greece for almost 20 years and a doula trainer for the past 5 years. During the first years of my calling I did consider becoming a midwife; I now know that this was because I did not have a clear idea about either the doula’s role or the midwife’s. I can now say with conviction that I am very satisfied with my doula role and am not interested in doing anything else! I am interested and committed in providing emotional support to families and have no interest at all in having a health professional’s role, possibly in being called to make medical decisions or perform any medical tasks. I cherish my doula work and the connections I have with both the women and the midwives/doctors I work with! I work close with some midwives/doctors in births and in doula trainings, and it is so touching to see how we each understand each other’s roles and scope of practice and complement each other! In most cases the couples we serve see this as well. I am convinced that each of us has a calling and I am happy that I have found mine!
You are an inspiration! I am so glad I met you in the DONA conference in 2012 in Cancun, Mexico!
I was trained 7 years ago by YOU Sharon. I recently completed midwifery school in lightening speed and will sit for my exams soon.
I have been fascinated with birth since having my first child unmedicated at 18 years of age. With every subsequent pregnancy I took a new type of childbirth class, and eventually became a childbirth educator.
I love doula work. In fact, I will miss working in hospitals and helping families navigate their options.
I love midwifery work. I love creating a close relationship with our clients, it’s different than the relationship with doula clients.
As a doula I’m focused on the mother/partner. In midwifery I get to build a bond with the growing baby and care for it on the other side.
I love being a part of the informed consent/choice process in the midwifery model of care. I love helping doula clients know they have options when they are not presented with any.
So I guess I love it all. I’m a midwife with a doula heart. I am a doula with a midwife heart. I’m okay with that.
One of my MOST favorite experiences I’ve had this year has been coming full circle with many of my past doula clients coming into midwifery care 🙂
I’ve been toying with this idea over the past year. I finally had a heart-to-heart discussion with a CNM and a CPM about the time that it takes to complete an apprenticeship and decided it was not for me. I love being a doula and although I know the clinical side, prefer not to be the decision maker for that. I prefer working alongside midwives and knowing clearly the difference in roles. Maybe thinking about being over 60 years old by the time I completed an apprenticeship and having to put my other businesses second helped in making the choice.
I am in the midst of applying to midwifery school this fall. I knew I wanted to be a midwife before becoming a doula. I’m so thrilled to be apart of the. DONA community as prerequisite for my acceptance to midwifery training.
I am a proud mom of 2 children and a proud doula living in Greece. I have had the chance to initially be trained as a doula from Maria Andreoulaki (who has also commented below this post) and through her I have begun my journey to reclaim my feminine power, as well as help any other woman do the same for herself and the women of her family and community. All this through the magical experience of birth.
I loved your article and thus decided to translate and post it via my page. Anyone able to read Greek can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-joy-of-birth/%CF%8E%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B5-%CE%B8%CE%B5%CF%82-%CE%BD%CE%B1-%CE%B3%CE%AF%CE%BD%CE%B5%CE%B9%CF%82-%CE%BC%CE%B1%CE%AF%CE%B1/1193991927394621
As I was reading your thoughts, I felt a strong urge to write an additional comment regarding the current situation between midwives and doulas in Greece.
Currently there’s a growing number of Greek midwives (mostly coming from the health system – be it private or public) that strongly oppose against the doulas practicing their profession. We have been left out of lactation and breastfeeding symposiums (basically denied entrance), have often fallen victimas of the spreading of fake rumours in the social media, all coming from midwives. Mothers have at times been publicly attacked by midwives for having hired a doula. Midwives, employees of clinics and hospitals are almost always denying entrance to doulas thus leaving the birthing women totally unattended. At other times midwives publicly accuse doulas for being inadequately trained and for offering medical assistance for which they are not certified (all of which is far from the truth).
It saddens and bitters me to read and hear all this because what all this boils down to is the continuous weakening and disempowering of us women. Where women don’t stand united to tend and befriend one another, societies suffer from hatred, war, racism and injustice.
I would like to see all women in the perinatal care realm in the same boat, fighting against the system that is brutally dehumanizing women during their most vulnerable, precious and sacred period of their lives.
Yes, I too believe that a good doula training will serve all women (be it professionals in the field or mere civilians, mothers, daughters or grandmothers) by deeply connecting them with one another and their most subtle, yet essential needs. First and foremost one such training will teach them to respect and honour one another!
Thank you Sharon for being such a bright light worker!
This article was very helpful for my situation. I want to be a Midwife. I love babies, pregnant women and all the other beautiful and not so beautiful things that comes with pregnancy. But I felt I didn’t want to rush into it. Plus I love being emotional support for anybody in my life. Friends always come to me for advice or random strangers come tell me their life stories and I usually give them good advice which makes me lean toward the Doula side of things. I always wondered if I could do both at the same time but for some reason it never occurred to me that I could transition from Doula to midwife. Thank you so much!
I’m a social worker by trade, a MilSpouse and pregnant with our first child at 25. I did not realize how much bearing a child and this transition would change me in a spiritual way (I know, cliche). I’m looking into becoming a doula because instead of helping from a social work perspective, I want to advocate for pregnant people who may be feeling alone, are dealing with their SO being deployed/BCT/AIT/field training, are traumatized, etc.Eventually I’ll want to do midwife work because
I am 70 and I am the mother of one boy and have two grandchildren and one great grandchild, Soon I will be a stepmom to a 13 year old boy.
God has brought a new session to my life. One filled with love and opportunities. To really know my background you will know that I have been doulas for horses and cats but I think that’s it’s time for me to help our young people. New laws and restrictions are suppressing Americans.
My first career was with Planned Parenthood in Green Pastures in Oklahoma City in 1968. You I was in an environment where I was the minority.