Did you know you can get paid to help a new mum? Become a doula and make money by using your experience as a mother.
A doula is paid to support a woman throughout her pregnancy and then in the first few months of motherhood. By becoming a doula you can earn money supporting new mums before, during or after pregnancy. As a doula you take your own experiences of motherhood and use them to support a family through the birth of their child.
You don’t need any qualifications to be a doula – just being a mum means you’re almost qualified already!
Being a doula offers a unique and rewarding opportunity to share in childbirth and ensure that the mother and her family receive vital support to enable the process to run smoothly.
As a doula you look after an expecting mum either before the pregnancy, during birth, after birth or throughout the whole process. It all depends on what help the mother and her new arrival need. If she wants you there all day for two weeks in a row you can provide that support, or she may just want a few short meetings with you.
Prior to the birth
You meet with the family a few times to provide support to the mum-to-be and her family. This involves listening to any concerns they may have and reassuring them.
You’ll also get the mother physically prepared for the birth of her child by offering advice on labour, non-pharmacological pain relief and relaxation methods.
In addition to helping her, you’ll also need to talk through any concerns the expecting father might have and also offer practical support for the family, like looking after the children whilst the parents are at scans and antenatal classes.
Two weeks prior to the due date a doula will be expected to be ‘on call’ to help the mother whenever she needs it.
During the birth
A doula goes with the mum to the hospital and stays with her until she has had her baby. You’re there to look after her, make sure she’s comfortable and keep her as calm and relaxed as possible.
The advantage of having a doula at the birth is that she can provide the mother with a level of constant attention that midwives and mother medical staff may not have time to offer. A recent report in the United States showed that labour time could be cut by 25% if more women had the support of a doula. This is largely due to the fact that the doula is able to keep the mother calm and positive during labour.
Doulas meet with the family after the birth to talk about the experience and offer support and guidance for the first few months of the child’s life. As most mums know, it doesn’t stop at birth – it’s a whole new ball game. So as a doula you can help the new parents get through any issues that may have arisen during the birth. You can also provide guidance on breastfeeding and bonding with the newborn.
Another aspect of the doula position is mucking in and spending some time helping out with household chores, looking after other children in the family and cooking meals. Your job is basically to take all the strain off the new mother so that she can rest and recuperate.
The length of time that you spend in this role varies from a couple of days up to a few months depending on how much help the mum needs.
Principally your role as a doula is to use the knowledge and experience you gained from the birth of your child to guide and support new mothers and their families through the birth of their child.
Sharing in the experience of a child being born can be an extremely rewarding and delightful experience. However the work of a doula is also time-consuming and challenging. You’ll often have to work long hours and be flexible to make sure you’re available if the family needs you.
These are the questions you need to ask yourself before deciding to become a doula:
Does your life allow flexibility?
Before becoming a doula you should make sure that any work or personal commitments can be fitted around the needs of your assigned family. A doula must be able to drop things in her own life to support the family and resolve any problems they may encounter.
Clearly, this requires a substantial commitment on the part of the doula and you must accept this if you intend to work in this profession.
However, making this commitment can be very rewarding. You can significantly improve an expectant mother’s experience of childbirth and ensure the smooth arrival of the baby into the world.
Are you comfortable with your own experiences of childbirth?
It is crucial that a doula does not pass any of her fears or expectations onto the mum-to-be. So, if you had a particularly horrendous birthing experience yourself and you still have residual concerns about labour and giving birth, it is important that you deal with those issues before becoming a doula.
A doula must endeavor to offer advice based on her own experiences, but it is key that she allows the mother to go through labour that is free of any personal worries the doula may have.
Can you be assertive without being controlling?
As a doula the wellbeing of the expectant mother is your primary concern. However you must be able to remain supportive without taking over the birth and making birth staff and family members feel redundant.
It is important that you allow the mum-to-be to give birth to her child as she wishes. The key is to offer advice and guidance without being pushy or controlling.
Are you in good health?
As we mentioned before, doula work is tough and demanding, not just emotionally, but also physically. So it’s important that you are in good health.
There are no age restrictions on being a doula; a 70-year-old doula can carry out the job equally as well as a 20 year old. However you are supposed to be helping the mother and if you cannot help because of bad health, you’re a hindrance. You should simply ensure your health will not prevent you from giving the mother all the support she needs.
Are you maternal?
If you’re a compassionate person who’s in tune with the feelings of others and a good listener then you have what it takes to be a doula. You’ll be sharing many intimate moments with the mum-to-be and her family and must be comfortable having personal chats and giving hugs where needed!
Step one: do a course
You don’t need a professional qualification to be a doula. However, taking a course is an essential introduction to take you through exactly what role you need to play, how to deal with new mothers, new developments in natural pain relief and many other queries that you’ll have about the job. Not only this, but many courses will be able to help you get in touch with expecting mothers who need your help.
There are a lot of courses available, however the MoneyMagpies like the British Doulas course due to its high level of integrity and training. In order to ensure the high standards of care, this agency are particuarly selective about who they invite onto the course – you will have to have a chat with someone from the agency before you can even apply to do the course. This informal chat lets the agency know you are suitable for the job and fully understand what the role involves.
Their courses are held several times throughout the year.
During this time you’ll receive training from midwives, family support specialists and experienced doulas and you’ll also get some hands-on experience which is invaluable. After the course, British Doulas also provide support when you are starting your business.
Step two: find work
The most straightforward way to begin working as a doula is to register with an agency such as British Doulas. They’ll introduce you to families and teach you how to advertise your services and find work.
Alternatively, you can start your own doula business. This involves advertising your services, either by word of mouth or in your local area via the internet and other methods. You could even set up a website advertising your services or post adverts in local newsletters and papers.
Step three: get paid
Doulas in this country make on average between £10 and £15 per hour for post-birth work and between £250 and £500 for a birth.
The amount you can charge as a doula depends on how much experience you have, where you’re working (in London you can charge more than elsewhere) and the number of births you have attended.
It’s possible to make a full-time living out of being a doula, particularly if you’re willing to be a birth doula as well as a post-birth doula and you live in the London area.
Doula work can be slightly unpredictable as babies don’t always arrive when they are meant to! So you could spend a lot of time waiting for the woman to go into labour or have to drop everything if the baby arrives before schedule.