New doulas want to meet other doulas, learn the ropes, talk shop, share excitement. Older doulas (Let’s call them veteran doulas, since old sounds, well, old.) are a little bit of #BeenThereDoneThat.
The question of mentorship often comes up. There are two schools of thought on this one. Mentorship can be really helpful for learning how to read the tone of the room, how to relate to other care providers and finding your way around hospitals or birth centres. On the other hand, it can also inhibit learning and growing in your new, chosen profession and it can slow down the certification process. It may not allow for you to express an action plan that may have been more beneficial had you been the lead doula thus not really building your confidence in the end.
The new doula will often turn to social media based doula groups for advice but this can be tough, too. There are so many mixed messages out there and not all groups have the same philosophy. Some of the groups can be quite negative and cross boundary lines which is very difficult for new doulas to navigate while other new doulas thrive in that environment and find they have a lot to add to conversations and really find their place in the doula world because of those discussions.
Doulas need to meet. Face to face. It is important enough that all other maternity care providers do this. Obstetricians have OB staff meetings with midwives and nurses as well as advisory committee meetings, rounds and other team meetings. Midwives also have practice meetings and case review time. Nurses meetings also include face time at shift change. For doulas, it has become much more difficult to manage. It used to be that regional meetings were held and doulas made their way out each month to discuss cases and further their education. Today’s doula finds it challenging to do this and with the advancements of technology meetings have moved online unless you are part of a collective in your area. The idea of working with a doula partner, as part of an agency or an existing collaborative group has the in-person meeting benefits that other maternity care staff has.
Talk to other doulas in your class or your doula trainer to find out what is already available in your region.