Can I Be A Doula Without Kids?
You ended up here because you are someone who has not personally had children and you're considering becoming a doula or you've trained as a doula but you've got that voice in your head asking "Am I really qualified to do this?".
It can be super scary to enter a field in which you have no personal first-hand experience with the very thing you are supporting. Many doulas tout their journey to this career as stemming from their own personal childbirth experience(s). So when that's not a part of your story, it can feel a bit intimidating to stand out in the crowd, assuming that those personal experiences are prerequisites into a professional career.
But here’s the deal: our job is less about the birth & recovery and more about the support. I know that seems counter intuitive when the whole career is surrounding this one big major event. But stay with me here...
Let’s do a little activity. I want you to think of all those moments in your life in which friends and family have turned to you. To vent. To talk. To cry. To laugh. To ask for your guidance or support. To lean on you just a bit harder than they do others. You’re that place where they land during hardship. They lost their job. They're having issues with their partner. Their mental health disorder is back with a vengeance. Family relations are at an all-time low. Their boss sucks. And they turn to YOU, because they trust you and they know you can support them at a time like this.
Sound familiar? Now, can you say with 100% certainty that in every one of those moments you were able to personally relate to their experience? That you had first-hand experience with exactly what they were going through? Probably not. Yet when they left your presence they said they were grateful for your love, friendship, support; that they found your comfort and kind words just to be the thing they needed that day.
It’s the support part that you’re really really good at. Yes, you. I promise.
Doula work is the same. We support families through the birth and postpartum experience. And it's that nonjudgmental, unbiased, calm and comforting presense that helps get them through. Not whether or not your reproductive history looks like theirs.
Also, a little secret...lots of people have babies and then go on to be doulas and work with families whose births look and feel NOTHING like their own did. They’re just as inexperienced in that person’s particular birth experience as we are, the doulas without children. No amount of personal birth experience will prepare you for someone's completely different experience and the emotions they feel during it.
As doulas, we enter each client relationship with a clean slate. We don't come with preconceived notions because, every. single. person. is different. No two inductions the same. No two vaginal deliveries. No two cesareans. No two homebirths. No two epidurals. No two emotions.
Doulas without children have that natural clean slate. We come with our passion, our professional training, and our desire to see families fully supported through that experience. No personal connection to childbirth or expectations that we have to work through and separate from our professional career.
Does a therapist need to have the same mental health diagnosis as their patient? Does the wedding planner need to be married? Does your realtor have to be a homeowner to be qualified and certified to help you through the home-buying process? What about the mechanic down the road? Should they only work on cars they personally own or have driven? Is the doula who has had 2 unmedicated vaginal deliveries unqualified to support clients with epidurals or cesarean sections? Sounds ridiculous, right? Hopefully that little voice in your head telling you that you aren't enough has gotten a little quieter.
So, if you've wondered if you can be a doula and not have children, I'm here to give you a resounding YES! And I'd be honored to be your trainer and mentor as you enter this field as a fellow childless doula.
Join us at the Facebook group Doulas Without Children for more support and insight!