At least, not just yet.
|At a Belly Mapping class where I met other doulas|
If you want to know something really funny about how long it takes me to grow into a label, ask my husband how old I was before I started referring to myself as "a woman."
I digress. But I hope my point has been made. Being a doula is important to me. I worked hard to become a doula. I continue to work hard to be a good doula, always trying to improve my skill-set to better serve my clients. Calling myself a doula represents the work I have done, and it also represents the trust that families put in me to supply something to their birth experience. DOULA means something to people. DOULA means TRUST. For many families, their doula is the only non-family member in their birthing space that they trust. Sometimes their doula is the ONLY person in their birthing space that they trust. Many people hire doulas because they need one person at their birth they can trust that they know is going to be there just for them. That is one person who will have no other priorities, responsibilities, or agendas.
When I receive an email from someone asking if they can shadow me, I will email them back to suggest that we meet first. Sometimes I tell people that I don’t feel like I’ve been a doula long enough to feel ready to be someone’s mentor. Most of the time I don’t feel comfortable asking my clients to allow someone else in their sacred space. In order for me to be comfortable doing that, it has to be for someone that I know. It has to be for someone that has made an effort to build a relationship with me. I need to have seen this person in real life several times. I need to have had conversations with this person. I need to have seen this person at birth-related events in the community so that I know that they are a REAL person and not someone sitting behind a screen trying to lure me out into an unsafe situation. I need to know that this person is reliable and serious about becoming a doula and not just trying to shadow me at a birth to “try it on for size” or “see if it’s something that they really want to do.”
If you aren’t sure whether or not you want to be a doula, if you don’t feel called to support women during their birthing times, you should try reading birth related books or attending a doula training in order to see if being a doula is something you want to pursue. Maybe a friend will allow you to attend her birth. But please don’t refer to yourself as a doula if you are not yet a doula. There have been enough untrained “doulas” out there that have made care providers needlessly wary of doulas because they think ALL doulas are “that way.”
One day I will be happy to mentor a new doula or two, but it won’t be until after I get to know you.