I was absolutely in love with Raven's topic -- I feel the true spirit of doula work is gathering and nurturing our fellow doula sisters while on our various journeys. There are great ideas here for the doula looking to network, whether she is well-seasoned, or fresh-off-the-vine. I appreciate Raven's willingness to share -- may we all have opportunities to grow together!
I felt myself called to doula work, as many birth workers do. It is such a pleasure and an honor to be invited to share these sacred intimate spaces with families and to help them access their own power and strength. The work can be long and difficult at times, but it’s hard for me to imagine anything more rewarding. Each birth is a gift that I treasure.
Although this wasn’t something I expected when I began on this path, becoming a doula has connected me to my tribe. The friends and sisters I have met in our local doula community have changed me for the better and I consider them some of my closest friends. Maybe it’s because we understand one another, we understand the heart and soul of working with mothers as they birth their little ones. We can all nod and sympathize over talk of marathon births, life on call, the honor of witnessing the beauty of birth, and the best ways to apply counter pressure. We throw around words like “placenta encapsulation," “delayed cord clamping," and “cervical effacement.” We oooh and aaah over gorgeous rebozos and peanut balls. We just get it and we get each other. We live to serve and this allows us to connect to each other in wonderful ways.
Sound delightful? It truly is. Here are 5 ways that doulas can connect with their local doula tribe.
1. Join your local doula organization. Do a little research and see if one exists in your area. I’m lucky enough to be part of the Utah Doula Association and it has connected me with so many fantastic doulas in my area. This type of organization usually hosts regular meetings where doulas learn new skills and become educated about birth and local resources. They might even sponsor a larger conference and publish a doula directory. If you don’t have one in your area, consider researching what it would take to start one.
2. Get involved. For example, if you’ve taken the first step by joining your local doula association, why not take it one step further by volunteering on the board? There’s no better way to get to know your fellow doulas than by working side by side with them and meeting up with them regularly. You might also look into volunteer opportunities. One of our local hospitals at the University of Utah has a volunteer doula program. This kind of work helps you meet other doulas, get to know the staff at the hospital, and they often hold trainings and in-services where you can increase your skill set.
3. Do lunch. Or dinner. Or dessert. Make a list of doulas in your area and arrange to meet some of them. You can do this on a one-on-one level and invite an experienced doula that you respect to meet you for cake and like-minded conversation. You’ll be amazed what you will learn. Another fun idea that has started up in my area is inviting a group of doulas to meet on a monthly basis for a potluck dinner. It can be so lovely to just enjoy some good food and some good company where you can chat about birth work and the doula life. It’s a great way to renew your passion and your energy.
4. Host birth meetings. Hosting informational meetings is a fun way to educate your community about birth options and can also be a way to connect with other birth workers in your area. Look into organizations like The Positive Birth Movement and consider hosting meetings of your own.
5. Share the doula love. If you get a client inquiry, but you’re unable to take that client, don’t just send them your regrets, send them a short list of other doulas in your area that might be able to take them. This helps the woman in need of a doula, it helps other doulas looking for business, and it helps you as those doulas reciprocate the favor. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Run your business in abundance mode (there is work enough for all of us) and shy away from dealing in scarcity mode (there is not enough to go around). The more we support each other, the more clients we can serve, and the more demand there will be for doula services.
So get out there and connect with your doula tribe! You won’t regret it, I promise.
Raven is a birth doula in Salt Lake City, Utah. She keeps busy chasing her four little ones around, volunteering on the board of the Utah Doula Association, volunteering at her local hospital, working with private clients, and just trying to keep up with the piles of laundry that never seem to disappear. You can find her at www.doularaven.com.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)