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How to Become a Postpartum Doula: 5 Essential and Easy Steps

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Picture of Bere Horthy

Bere Horthy

Doula & Registered Nurse

I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to become a birth and postpartum doula.

It all starts with that little voice in your heart telling you that you want to guide and support new parents during one of the most transformative periods of their lives: the postpartum phase.

You’re eager and full of empathy, but perhaps a little unsure about how to become a postpartum doula, and that’s completely normal.

Becoming a postpartum doula is a journey that requires training, dedication, and a deep love for caring and helping others.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide.

As you make your first steps towards this rewarding and life-changing career, I want to provide you with a roadmap.

One that helps ease doubts, boosts your confidence and moves you closer to your dream.

Let’s jump in.

Step 1 – The role of a postpartum doula

Before diving headfirst into doula training and certification, it’s important to fully understand what a postpartum doula does.

A postpartum doula provides evidence-based information on aspects like infant feeding, mother-baby bonding, and basic newborn care.

They also offer light housekeeping, meal preparation, sibling care, and, most importantly, emotional support.

This role is about “mothering the mother”, helping her feel more confident and less overwhelmed during the transition into life with a newborn.

A postpartum doula’s work goes far beyond basic postpartum care; it encompasses nurturing the entire family during a significant and delicate period of adjustment.

after birth help

Step 2 – Skills and traits needed

So, you’ve got the passion, but what about the personality traits and skills required to be a great postpartum doula?

Let’s break it down.

First off, empathy and compassion are two biggies.

Remember, you’ll be working with new moms who might be going through a whirlwind of emotions, from pure joy to post-birth exhaustion and everything in between.

So being someone who can truly understand and connect with what they’re going through is key.

Next up, patience.

Babies, bless their hearts, don’t operate on anyone’s schedule but their own, so be prepared to help the parents in every way possible as they get used to their new rhythm.

And let’s not forget about those darling, yet sometimes demanding, siblings who are adjusting to the new family dynamics.

Being patient, calm, and collected, even in the middle of late-night fussiness or toddler tantrums, can be a game changer.

Lastly, being an excellent communicator can make a world of difference.

Whether it’s listening to a mother’s worries, explaining a baby’s feeding cues, or chatting with other family members.

Your ability to convey information clearly and warmly is a superpower in this line of work.

While you might not be a pro at all these yet, that’s okay.

Skills can be learned, and traits can be developed.

What’s important is your readiness to grow and adapt.

Step 3 – Training and Certification

Completing your certification not only gives you the knowledge and skills needed to give the best care, but it also reassures your clients that you’re well-trained and competent.

There are so many online and in-person certification programs available no matter where you are located.

Many require a blend of self-study, attending births, and in-person workshops.

The cost varies, but think of it as an investment in your future.

Some programs even offer scholarships or payment plans.

But how do you choose the right one for you?

This is a question I hear a lot.

The key is to look for a program that covers everything from the physical recovery of a new mom to newborn baby care and breastfeeding support.

It’s also a good idea to find a program that offers a balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience.

Different courses focus on different areas more than others and teach only certain viewpoints, so make sure to do your research and read reviews from previous students.

Remember, the road to becoming a doula isn’t just about checking boxes; it’s about finding a program that resonates with your values and prepares you for your doula duties.

smiling-young-freelancer-greeting-client questions to ask your doula

Step 4 – Getting hands-on and building connections

This is where the real fun begins – gaining practical experience.

You’ve got your theoretical knowledge in your pocket, now it’s time to put it to work in the real world.

We know, this might feel like a huge step, but remember, every expert was once a beginner, just like you.

So, where do you start?

Volunteering is an excellent first step.

Look for opportunities at local hospitals or women’s shelters – places that’ll welcome your newly learned skills with open arms.

If you have friends or family with a new little bundle of joy, offer them your services.

This is a great way to build confidence, refine your skills, and get constructive feedback.

Another key ingredient to a successful career as a postpartum doula is building a strong network.

Join local doula groups on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

These communities are filled with advice, opportunities, and supportive doulas who know exactly what you’re going through.

They’re places where you can share experiences, ask questions, and maybe even find a few doulas to work with.

Take the initiative and reach out to experienced doulas in your area.

You’d be amazed how many of them would be thrilled to mentor someone as dedicated and enthusiastic as you.

Start an Instagram account or a simple website documenting your postpartum doula services.

Showcase your wisdom, share your experiences, and let your passion beam through every post.

This not only helps potential clients find you, but it also cements your credibility in the field.

Sure, this journey is not going to be a walk in the park, but remember, every step (or baby step, if you will) takes you closer to your goal.

postpartum doula helping with bath
Source: Andre Wagner

Step 5 – Establishing Your Doula Practice

Congrats, you’ve made it this far.

Now it’s time for the big leap—establishing your own doula practice.

Now, let’s not sugarcoat it, this step might seem a little scary.

You’ll be dealing with new responsibilities, and it’s natural to feel a bit of jitters.

But It’s also incredibly exciting and rewarding.

You are about to make a real difference in people’s lives.

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide how you want to structure your practice.

Will you work solo, or join a doula collective?

Then, focus on the details like setting your fees, determining your service area, and planning your availability.

Remember, it’s okay to start small and grow your practice over time.

Marketing is another important aspect.

Word of mouth, social media, and professional networks can be great ways to spread the word about your services.

Start by sharing your new journey with family, friends, and anyone else who will listen.

My family and friends were so helpful.

Sure, there will be some challenges.

You might encounter long hours, emotional demands, and the occasional difficult client.

But the rewards are priceless.

Seeing a new mom gain confidence, helping a family adjust to their new dynamics, and getting to cuddle cute newborns—these moments make it all worth it.

Your journey starts now

Whew, that was a lot to take in.

But you’ve already taken the first step.

You’ve shown an interest, a passion for this path.

Becoming a postpartum doula is a journey filled with growth, learning, and unforgettable moments.

Yes, there will be bumps in the road, but remember, the most rewarding paths often have a few.

This journey is yours, and every challenge you overcome will make your work as a postpartum doula even more rewarding.

Your empathy, your passion, and your willingness to make a difference are all you need to excel in this path.

Ready to take the first step towards this rewarding career?

Start exploring, start learning, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to make a world of difference as a postpartum doula.

berenice-horthy-author
Bere Horthy

As a doula and nurse, Bere's mission is to empower and educate women, families, and fellow doulas to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey.

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