What's it really like on a doula course?
My experience of doing a doula course with Nurturing Birth.
At the beginning I was excited, nervous, and also quite worried that I was doing a stupid thing by diving into the birth world when I haven’t even seen someone give birth. I had a pretty good idea of what a doula did, because I had chatted with a lot of friends of friends who were doulas, but I kept thinking, who is going to want a teenage doula who’s never done it before?!
By the end of the course, I was so encouraged and even more excited! I had a much stronger idea of what doulas do, how they help and what they actually talk about. I also learnt more about the difference between a doula and a midwife/mother’s help/cleaner/nanny/babysitter which is quite important. Being a doula is definitely what I want to be doing!
To be honest, the actual course was quite like how I expected it. I expected a relaxed setting, with ten or so other women discussing and chatting about birth and postnatal doulaing. I was surprised that there were only two other women on the course, but it turned out really nice. I think I didn’t expect that Sophie would be quite as nice as she was, so when she was super friendly, it was lovely. I did expect it to be a bit more formal and paperworky, but I’m glad it wasn’t!
There were several things I found challenging. For example, I found it hard imagining what I’d do in particular scenarios as a doula. I felt like saying, ‘I have no idea’ every time! And then thinking that this is what doulaing is, because you constantly have to decide what to do in real situations, just made me feel even worse and like I’d never be able to do it.
I found the imaginary interview challenging at first. I mean, I was terrified of the idea, but when I relaxed, it got better. I think all doulas are still learning what to say in an interview, what to share and how much information to save for the antenatal sessions, but I realised that, although it is a business interview, it’s much more like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea. You're just getting to know a prospective client and seeing if you 'click' with each other.
I struggled when Sophie (course facilitator) left and got us to create a presentation, about induction or babies sleeping, on the course. I found it hard to think of a good way of presenting our information and I felt kind of lost when Sophie left the room! I felt like saying, ‘You’re supposed to teach me, why are you leaving!!’
I found the last two days quite challenging. Not in a bad way, but part of me wanted there to be a day’s break in the middle so that we could have time to process all the information. I guess that’s why it’s called an intensive course! :)
However, the positives far outweighed the challenges on the course.
During the course there were regular breaks and a never-ending supply of tea, which was brilliant!
When I knocked on the front door for the first time, I was quite nervous and expected to have to explain who I was, but Sophie knew immediately! She welcomed me with a big smile and put me at ease straight away. That was really nice.
My favourite thing about the course was watching all the birth videos! I got a rush of oxytocin myself after each of the homebirths (and the cesarean, actually). I just felt so full of joy and love. Babies being born is SO special.
I also really enjoyed the practice interview. Although it was challenging, it was very helpful. It also helped me bond with my friends on the course who were really understanding and helpful, since I was the youngest and had the least experience.
I liked that Sophie really interacted with us and especially how she checked in with us every morning and found out how we were feeling. I loved that there was space for me to ask all my questions and be honest.
It was great being on the course and being equal with the other women even though they were all more than 20 years older than me and had had their own children. I love that even though I don’t know much yet I can be a great doula and start so young.
I liked it when we brainstormed, and all gave answers to a general question like ‘who should we network with’ or ‘challenges for new parents’ or ‘the media’s representation of birth’. I found that helpful, because although I had ideas, the other women coming from a different perspective had loads of other ideas that I would never have thought of.
I really liked the other women on the course, I liked Sophie, I liked her dog, I liked her housemates…the whole experience was great!
Something I find so cool is that now I have the privilege of being part of the doula community. I’m in the gang! I get to join in the zooms and be on the directory and choose a mentor and call myself a Nurturing Birth Doula. I love that.
My belief that birth is awesome was intensified by doing the course, definitely. Seeing the birth videos made my heart sing and talking about the different aspects of the perinatal period made me feel more and more like this is exactly what I want to do.
After doing the course I felt I wanted to learn more about the physiology of birth, how to tell if a woman is dilating during labour without an internal examination, breastfeeding, formula feeding, hand expressing breastmilk, washing newborns, how to breathe through contractions, what to talk about in an interview or antenatal/postnatal session and how to tell if a baby’s feeding well.
I wanted to join Doula UK and, having done the course with Nurturing Birth, I was hopeful that they wouldn’t have a problem letting me be a member, which they didn't. :)
Nurturing Birth has offered me a place on their directory, a great mentor, answers to any more questions I have, support that only doulas can give doulas, good friends and people I can trust. They also organise a virtual cuppa over zoom every week for Nurturing Birth doulas, which is brilliant for continuity of care and support especially for fledgling doulas.
I will never regret doing the Nurturing Birth doula course, it was a brilliant investment and worth every penny. If you are considering becoming a doula, or if you are pregnant and need a doula, look up Nurturing Birth!