Ever since I had enough experience to help another doula out, I have been happily engaged in growing doula sisters. My first hospital birth in Chico found me in the fortuitous position of working with another doula; this was an invaluable experience. She was able to show me the ins and outs of the hospital, where to get snacks for the mom, which drawers held the pillowcases (and that we were able to access), how to get to the cafeteria -- all stuff that would have taken a lot of time, energy, and bothering-of-nurses (while I was also trying to support a family during labor). I am grateful to that doula for taking me under her wing -- I wasn't new to birth, but I was new to this hospital -- and her willingness to share her craft and her knowledge is a true sign she believes in the work doulas do.
It can be hard to find sucess as a doula -- it truly takes a village to get yourself and your name out there to the point of receiving referrals, interviews, and ultimately, births. Many women who attend doula trainings later "drop out" because they have such a hard time trying to integrate into their local birth world. In pondering this, a lot of thoughts have come to the surface which may be helpful to that doula-in-training who is about to fall by the way-side.
When we think about who might need a doula, often we focus in on our closest social networks -- our close-tie connections -- family and friends we know well. We have emotional connections with these people, we see them often and have shared past experiences with them. This can be met with gleeful agreement and anticipation on the part of these close-tie relations, or it may not get us anywhere. What can be more fruitful than this group is the next social network outside this realm -- these are known as our "weak-tie" connections.
The idea behind weak-tie connections was proposed by Stanford professor Mark Granovetter in 1973. The basic idea is the more links we have with people who are not closely associated with each other, the more opportunities we will have in business, spreading ideas, and joining together for a common cause. "Individuals with few weak-ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends," Granovetter said. Basically, if we stay within this close-ties realm, we stifle our opportunity for further exposure to grow and branch out of our little corner of the social-world.
How does this apply to doula work? Get out there and network! Start with your close-ties and work into weak-ties via your connections. Let your close-ties know your doula endeavors and be sure to encourage them to pass on your information to people they think might have a need or common interest. Just today I virtually met a doula who lives in the town where my sister-in-law grew up and still has many friends and family -- I promised this doula I would pass her information on to my close-tie, thus providing her (hopefully) with some weak-tie opportunities that may prove beneficial at some point. Other places to find weak-ties as a new doula: church, school, clubs, the gym, work, your doctor's office, commujnity meetings and events or fairs. When you open your eyes to the potential right outside your direct family and friends, the possibilities are not only endless, they can also be much more promising.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)