It might seem crazy, or maybe unnecessary, to start one’s own doula training organization, given how many exist today. We’ve gone well beyond the big players and there are now dozens of organizations training doulas all over the world. Each one has their personal style or approach, some are locally-based, and others have gone national or beyond.
So, yes, I am adding myself and my org to a long list of people already doing it. Could I have gone with an existing org and just become a trainer for them? Yes, I tried that, I’ll explain more below. Why do my own? Well, I have a few reasons.
- I tried connecting with several orgs and for one reason or another, it didn’t make sense. Maybe it was finances, maybe they didn’t need a Southern located trainer, or maybe they weren’t adding to their list of trainers at all. Lots of road blocks and disappointment, but I was determined to bring locally-based doula trainings to Memphis and the Mid-South region.
- I realized that I didn’t align with all aspects of many of the existing orgs. I have a very particular set of values surrounding doula work–both how we practice with our clients and conduct our businesses, and how we support one another through professional memberships and training. This is my chance to formally share my philosophy and help others find theirs.
- Deeper into that, I realized how much bureaucracy is involved in becoming a doula and maintaining certification. I wanted to create an org that acknowledges and is self-aware of that. I am offering what I believe to be an educational certification experience, one that actually teaches you valuable lessons about being a doula, and I’m offering a one time fee lifetime certification. The set it and forget it certification. The no bullshit certification. I am still utilizing the model of having a certification (even though in an unregulated industry, they are somewhat meaningless), but I wanted it to be there if people need it or want it, and not make them pay me over and over again to keep it.
- Doulas need mentors and that isn’t always easy to find on our own, so the org offers 4 mentorship sessions a year if you join the membership program, which is required for the first year, optional ongoing. 4 opportunities for you to talk to an experienced doula about any number of topics that are relevant to you and your practice. Process a birth, talk about business, whatever you need!
- Going beyond the basics: I hear so often from doulas training with the major orgs that they felt underprepared for the work and felt like their training left out important information (either about birth itself, how to handle scenarios, or business). When I say this training is comprehensive, I mean it is comprehensive as all get out. I know it isn’t perfect, but what is? And I acknowledge that the curriculum will need continuous updated and improving, but I am doing what I can to get everything in my brain on to paper right now, and then hone it as we go. But it is a LOT because I want our doulas to feel extremely confident and prepared as they step into the work. Of course, the best learning is on the job, but why worry about missing information when we can give you so much more.
- Anti-racism and inclusivity are at the forefront. Our doulas will begin to learn about the history of American birth and how it impacts contemporary birth experiences and outcomes, especially in the Black community. Our doulas will have context for their work and be able to examine and work toward breaking down the systems of oppression that harm birthing families every day. We are gender inclusive, neuro inclusive, ability inclusive, queer affirming, all family structures affirming, trauma informed, and strive to create a space where everyone feels welcome and that they have a home with our org. We offer a range of scholarships, and are working toward pairing with a nonprofit to create a scholarship fund specifically for Black aspiring doulas. We offer payment plans as well and do what we can to make our trainings accessible to all.
- I wanted to create a curriculum that truly embodied my doula practice philosophy. Embodiment is the center of the approach, and we teach our doulas to help our clients tap into their body’s messages, intuition, relationship to their baby, relationship to their sexuality, relationship to their human animality, and more. Our doulas learn embodied, empathic communication skills, and also learn how to step in when they see incidences of violence or abuse in the birth room.
- Identity: not enough is said of the inner psychic journey of becoming a parent, and our doulas are taught about my philosophy/theory regarding this profound transformation. We hope this will prepare doulas to support not only the physical and informational needs of our clients, but also the deeply spiritual and/or psychic. We look at the experience from all angles.
- Business skills: although there are some trainings out there that have a business focus, many doulas are leaving their training with all the passion in the world and no idea how to actually find and work with families. I share what has worked for me and others, and try to offer as much business support as possible. We emphasize that not only are you becoming a doula, you are also becoming an entrepreneur–that was definitely not emphasized enough in my trainings, and I know many other doulas feel they lacked that info as they started their practice.
- I decided to create Embodied Doula Trainings because Memphis needed it, but also because I needed a way to channel my passion of supporting my fellow doulas. This organization allows me to give back to my community and help create more doulas, which we desperately need!
I look forward to seeing where this will take me, and I am even more excited to bring more folks on as trainers (hopefully all over the country). I also want to shout out to my Doula Community Liaison, Maddi Wilkerson, for all she is doing and will do to support our growing community at Embodied Doula Trainings.
If you are interested in becoming a doula, and you live in the Memphis area, we still have a few spots for our October birth and postpartum trainings. Www.embodieddoulatrainings.com
If you don’t live in Memphis, we will be hosting a virtual training in January, so stay tuned for that!