Simple Support Every New Doula Needs to Succeed

Not too long ago, I was sitting at a traffic light at a busy intersection when something caught my eye.  My then 15-year-old was driving, which I’m sure the parents of new drivers out there understand, is a bit nerve-wracking.  Imagine our surprise when we saw these two little ducklings frantically running about the intersection like they had no idea what direction to go.  After a harrowing journey, the ducklings made it across the road and into the safety of the waiting ditch on the other side.


Melissa’s teenagers. Aren’t they sweet. 🙂

It struck me how sometimes in life, we all have a little ducklings moment; running through a busy intersection just trying to get to the other side.  My teenagers, are sometimes those ducklings, trying to grow into adults and launch out into the world.  New parents are sometimes those ducklings, as they care for their newborns for the first few weeks. New doulas are sometimes those ducklings as they begin their journey into birth work.

Becoming a doula can be a journey that’s filled with mixed emotions. Excitement about what’s next,  confidence about your path, but for some, there’s also a bit of uncertainty. The doula training workshop is a great jumping off point to learn hands-on skills, role play communication with potential clients, and to explore setting up and marketing the doula business. After the workshop, a new doula can sometimes feel like the little duckling in the road.  Which way to go?  What’s the best path to take?

Close up small duckling on the asphalt roadBut unlike the ducklings that I saw frantically running through the road, we also have resources right by our side to guide us.  My teenagers have us, their parents, and a whole slew of other awesome adults to encourage and help them.  New parents have care providers, family members, postpartum doulas, support groups, other parents, lactation consultants and counselors, and many others who are ready to support them exactly where they are.

And the new doula also has a whole host of resources at their fingertips.

From contact with your doula trainer, to support from DONA International leadership, guidance is just a moment away. Here are a few ways that we strive to support new doulas as they launch their doula careers.

From your trainer:

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t offer some sort of doulaing to a doula.  From new to seasoned doulas, near and far.  Trainers are equipt to offer some support for the basics, and many of us have a structure that upholds a more intimate level of assistance. Basics would include quick questions about getting started, communicating with providers, SOP/COE, certification etc. Sometimes a quick answer is all you need, while other times a bit more in-depth support is necessary.  What I call second level support includes that extra level coaching in things such as business coaching that is specific to your area, or for more detailed support, we offer virtual consults.  These consults are great for when a doula wants to go a bit deeper, talk more about their specific business needs, or seek guidance beyond the basics.  Technology affords us the ability to be face to face and to really dive into your specific situation!

From your regional leadership:

DONA International has set up a contact system that involves state/area representatives and regional representatives.  These leaders are doulas themselves, and they live and practice in your region (and sometimes in your state/area).  The SPARS and Regional Directors are a great touch point to get questions answered about doula work, to process a birth, or for guidance and sometimes mediation in tricky situations. Local leaders are a wealth of information and support, and they can answer most questions.  If they come across a topic or question that they don’t know the answer to, they can easily find the resources for the answer! Here are some of those resources to help you connect with your state/regional leadership.

DONA Southeastern US Regional Director- Tonya Daniel:

To find your state rep, visit the DONA International Staff/Leadership page.


Doulas that come through the Capital City Doula Services workshop have the option to be immediately added to our private Facebook group JUST for those that have completed the workshop. This Facebook group is a perfect place for my student doulas to support each other and get some support from me.  I’m a big believer in peer-to-peer mentorship and know that we can learn so much from one another, so our Facebook group is designed to be a great place to connect without the worry of some of the bad internet behavior you may see in other groups.  Ain’t nobody got time for that in our group!  I am exceedingly proud of the collaboration and support that happens in our private group.

In addition, DONA International members have the ability to join the DONA Member Facebook Group(for members only), as well as a large DONA community group(anyone and everyone).  These groups can be a great place for mentorship.  Monthly, DONA International hosts Twitter chats using the hashtag #DONAChat. Doulas from all over the world get together on Twitter to talk about all things doula.

All in all, there are many ways for doulas to recieve guidance Hands Holding a Baby Chickwhen they need it. Sometimes it’s just a click or call away! New doulas can rest comfortably in the fact that there is no need to feel like the duckling in the road. Be confident in your skills and reach out for support as you continue on your journey.

Always growing, ever learning, much loving,

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Melissa Harley, AdvCD/BDT(DONA), LCCE is an advanced certified birth doula, approved birth doula trainer, and certified childbirth childbirth educator.  She is the owner of Capital City Doula Services (CCDS) and this blog.   While working as a doula led her to the childbirth profession, mentoring  families and professionals  is one of her greatest joys.  To contact Melissa, please visit our contact us page.