And nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit.
Sure, my bags are mostly packed with vacuum-sealed pouches of donations bestowed upon me by my lovely friends, colleagues, clients and neighbors. My clothes have been sprayed with bug-stuff that would make the FDA cringe, but it will prevent me from getting bit by malaria-carrying insects so hell, I'd bathe in it if it was allowed. I have my training schedule done, my outlines printed and my activities planned. My kindle is charged and loaded and I have a certifiable pharmacy in my travel bag in the event that I get any possible malady known to human kind. I have a small travel purse loaded with my passport, flight information, visa documents, travel insurance and the letter from Shanti Uganda saying "please let this nice lady bring a shit ton of needles and syringes into the country, I promise she's not a junkie."
But am I ready? Nope.
How can you be prepared to teach an 8 day training in a country you've never been to, with people you've never met?
What I do have is confidence. Confidence that even though I'm literally flying into unknown territory to do a Really Big Thing, I will rock it and I will rock it hard. I will come out of this experience with a deeper understanding of myself and the world we live in. I will learn from these women taking my training and they will learn from me.
KC and I also have two clients who have crept passed their due dates this week. They are sitting on the verge of doing something that is new and unknown and life-changing in ways they won't understand until they walk through it. There are so many connections between the self-discovery of birth and life itself.
Like the birthing parents I serve, I will walk into this experience with the advice of the ones that have gone before me, I will prepare for the unknown and trust my own inner power. In client interviews, we are often asked what we find to be the best coping tool during labor and my answer is usually "confidence". If you believe your body can handle the pain of birth, and you trust the process that nature designed, you are more likely to achieve your goal of an unmedicated birth.
Confidence is vital in birth work and it's what separates the amazing doulas from the mediocre ones. Regardless of experience. If a brand new doula can walk into the birth room with confidence that they can provide support for this person who is suffering, they WILL do it. Laboring people need to know that someone in the room isn't scared, isn't nervous and trusts that their body can handle whatever the labor dishes out. Our job is to carry that confidence for them when they've lost their own.
"I believe in you. I know this is unbelievably hard. You will find strength you don't know you have, and you will push this baby out!"
My colleagues and friends who have taken this trip before me (as students) tell me it will be a life-changing experience. While I have deeply appreciated the advice and words of KC, Natasha, Melinda, Kristina and Jane, this experience will be my own. Just as pregnant people listen to birth story after birth story preparing for their own labor, I will hear the words given to me and lovingly accept the tips of what (not) to wear, what to pack, how to properly dismount a camel, and what conversations to avoid (it's still illegal to be gay in Uganda so I have to conduct the portion of my training geared towards supporting Queer families in the comfort of our hotel). I will have a better experience because of their support. They might not be with me in Uganda, but they are my doulas and midwives for this experience regardless of distance!
Stay tuned... I leave in 36 hours and I'll hopefully be able to post some while I'm there!
Frequently Asked Questions about the Birth Arts International Doula Training - Part 2: Looking forward to your doula training!
So Kate, now that I've enrolled, what can I expect to learn at this training workshop?
This weekend workshop will fully equip you to begin your work as a doula. You will not leave the weekend with a certification in hand, but you will have the skills to support mothers in birth. We cover the following:
YES! With your registration confirmation email from Kate, you will get the book list for certification and that is an excellent place to begin! You will need to read 9 of the books on the list and having that base knowledge before you take your training will give you a deeper understanding of what this work can mean as we explore it.
You can also find a childbirth education course to audit before your training and contact your trainer for documentation forms if you do! This is especially helpful if you have never taken a childbirth education course before or haven't given birth yourself.
What else is required for certification?
The requirements for Birth Doula certification break down into three basic categories: Experience, Business Success, Study & Grow.
That's it! It might seem overwhelming at first but these all serve a purpose: To help guide you to be the best doula you can be and to truly find YOUR best business practices. Spoiler alert: they will likely look different than every other student in your class. Just like birth preferences are unique to the mother, so will your doula heart be unique to you.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Birth Arts International Doula Training - Part 1: Considering our program
What makes Birth Arts different from other organizations?
So here's the thing... Birth Arts International believes firmly that our organizational standards of excellence speak for themselves. We believe that there is a perfect doula organization for every aspiring doula. Birth Arts may be right for you but I encourage you to look at the other organizations to see which one fits your doula style and heart. Here is a brief overview of why *I* feel that Birth Arts should be at the top of the list:
That all sounds great, but $450 is a lot of money... is there any kind of discount?
Is it? Really? Sure to some families, $450 is a month of rent or food... but I challenge you to find any other career that can be started and certified for that price. $450 isn't all you might need to spend to launch your full successful business though, so let's break it down:
This feels like a lot, but consider that a newly trained doula can earn anywhere from $300-$600 on average for their fist few births and you can recoup your ENTIRE investment in the first few months. There is literally no way that you can afford NOT to take this training. Especially when compared to the training costs, fees and annual dues of other certification organizations.
There are limited scholarships available but they are limited to special scenarios and you do need to consider the full investment into this. You are looking at maybe around $1,000 for a complete start up into a business that can earn you $30-$80k in the future. My first year as a doula, I made $7,000 and that wasn't even full time and I charged way less than new doulas do now.
Wait, so I can charge money for my certification births?
Hell yeah you can. You should! Birth Arts does not limit what you charge for your births, nor do they require that you charge. You can be free if you want but consider this: no birth is free. Every birth will cost you gas, parking, supplies and potentially childcare. Charge money for your certification births, even if it simply covers your estimated costs.
Down the road, you can raise your fees and even set the high enough that you are able to offer your services completely free to those clients who speak to your heart... do you have a passion for serving teens? Single or military mothers? Mothers relinquishing their babies for adoption? Women of color? Mothers experiencing loss? Keep your heart work in mind while you grow!
You mentioned childcare... and I feel totally stuck. How do I manage that?
Network. Community. The Village. Childcare options may feel overwhelming but you have so many options:
I have been a doula as a married mother of two children (one of whom was still nursing), and as a single mother of three children (again, the youngest was nursing) and as a re-married mother of 5 blended children. I have had other doulas on call for me at night for a flat rate, I have had a long list of "potential sitters" that I worked down as the labor call came in and now I have JulieTheSuperNanny who literally steps into my minivan when I step out to a birth and runs my house like the badass she is. The bottom line being: try out options for childcare and don't be afraid to explore every area to find the perfect situation. I found JulieTheSuperNanny through a neighboring Buy Nothing group on facebook! Be creative!
What about your partner? Are they supportive?
Ah. Yes, the partner. If you are a single person looking to be a doula, you face a different set of struggles that I'll address later. If you are partnered, you need to have a serious and open conversation with your partner about what this will mean for you and your family:
I swear we need to offer a support group for the partners of doulas and midwives... they have many tales of interrupted sex and they know the best pizza places that deliver dinner fast! They also know that the joy they see in us when we walk in the door with amniotic fluid on our pants and vernix on our elbow.... and the way that our work sets an example for our children about following your passion and being a proud business owner... it is worth it.
Are you ready? Click HERE to take the next step!
Birth Arts International is a rapidly growing doula organization that offers certification programs and continuing education for doulas nationwide. I am thrilled to be joining their ranks as a doula trainer and will be offering trainings throughout Washington state!
Many parents and doulas have asked me why, after seven years in the field, I have decided to align so strongly with one organization and I am here to tell you my reasons...
1.) It's accessible to more doulas! A common motto heard is "a doula for every woman" and in order to make that dream possible, doula trainings need to be less expensive than most models out there. Think of it like a CPR training... those are relatively inexpensive because we need people with these skills out in the world. Our communities need doulas and BAI has crafted an extensive training that is more appropriate for the budgets of aspiring doulas. They also offer an excellent distance learning course for those who are not near an in-person training site! Also, you have no time limit to finish your certification... they ask that it take no longer than two years, but there is no fee if you need a bit longer.
2.) The training is more extensive and realistic. How many births will it take for you to become a certified doula? BAI requires documentation of 5 births which is actually more than most other organizations... their documentation is more appropriate as well. BAI does not require you to have your work evaluated by the doctor, just the family you served. The book lists, assignments and training really set you up to run a successful business. The homework is focused on business plans and how you plan to market and connect with your clients.
4.) There is a genuine trust between the organization and the doulas it sends forth. There are no annual dues to keep your name tied to the organizaion. They do not require re-certification. Your certification never expires... once you have the knowledge, they trust that you won't lose it. What about continuing education? BAI trusts that if you plan to make yourself successful and maintain a good reputation, you will stay informed and up to date with the developing trends and knowledge within the birth world.
5.) Continuing Education with the same model of professional respect and accessibility. Since a good majority of doulas opt to branch out and become postpartum doulas or childbirth educators, BAI has expanded their organization to include those certifications as well as many others!
6) Connection. Through their online classrooms, facebook groups and their growing network of local Doula Trainers, BAI strives to hold each doula's hand as they walk this path. We doula the doula in every sense of the word.
Okay Kate, I'm sold. This sounds like an organization I can really work with and I want to become a BAI doula! What do I do???
Excellent! You can explore more about their certification programs HERE and if you are looking for an in-person training in Washington, please check my Doula Training Page for updates on what we have coming up! Following BAI on Facebook is also a great way to begin the connection with doulas in your area.
The Let It Be Birth Doulas will use this space to write blog posts about their work, our doula community here and worldwide, and general birth and parenting.