Doing the Doula Thing

Okay, so here is where I try to re-cap just how my birth doula training went. This is turning out to be a pretty difficult task. The whole weekend was overwhelmingly great; I can’t remember a time where I felt so secure and connected to a room full of women who I had never met before, and each day just brought us all closer to one another. I’m not going to get into a lot of the details of what the weekend consisted of, but here is a general re-cap with a few of the key things that we learned and practiced.

Where do I even start? I guess there’s no place like the beginning.

First of all, Dave and I decided to stay in the city instead of me driving back and forth each day (and paying the $15/day parking) to save our sanity and a lot of time. So we drove up in the early afternoon on Friday and made our way to the hotel. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Toronto – a hotel Dave would have never stepped foot into 4 months ago. But the days of Starwood HotRates are long behind us now! We used Priceline for the first time and it was totally weird.

Friday was only a half-day, 4 hours in the evening. We were encouraged to bring our dinner, so on our way down to the venue (Dave walked with me) I picked up some soup and brought it along. I think having a half-day for the first day is a really great idea, because it got all of the gritty first-day tasks out of the way (finding the venue, introductions, seating, etc.) without all of those things distracting away from the rest of the day. Our training was being taught by two women and there were about 22 of us at any given time. I was surprised to learn that not everyone there had an end-goal of becoming a DONA-certified birth doula; some were there to earn health credits and others were there just because they were interested in the topic.

We were given a workbook that was referenced throughout the weekend and contains a lot of helpful information and forms/lists that will benefit me in the future (anyone who knows me knows I love a good list!) On the first day we talked about the benefits of labour support; we broke into groups to talk about social media and we started learning some hand-massaging comfort techniques. I left feeling inspired and really excited for the rest of the weekend!

I hardly slept that first night, probably due to being so excited. I woke up tired but very ready to start the day. I got up and had some pumpkin bread and made tea in room, then I had Dave drive me because it was raining! We dove right into the topic I was most interested in: your doula business! Our trainers went through the step-by-step of what they say to potential clients on the phone, during their initial meeting, and what they discuss with the woman or couple in future meetings to prepare for their time together during labour and birth. We learning how to effectively communicate with your clients during labour as well as with others who are attending the birth. Then we spent some more hands-on time using the birth ball and discovering different positions and more pain relieving techniques. We learned about coping versus distress in labour and how to help a mother manage throughout.

Once I got back to the hotel after the workshop I had a sudden burst of energy. I dropped my stuff off in the room and Dave and I took a long walk around the hotel and read every menu we passed on the way. Once it started getting cold (and I was getting increasingly hungry) we chose where we wanted to eat and got our meals to go. We went back to the hotel where I could unwind, shower do some homework and get my bag ready for the next day.

Ready for Day 3.

I woke up the next morning feeling very rested and I remembered a dream I had about my mom being pregnant (Mom, is there anything you want to tell me?) We had a potluck for lunch and I brought three (3!) loaves of my pumpkin bread. There were soooo many snacks and treats that only 1.5 of the loaves got eaten; Dave was pretty happy about that. Being a vegan at a potluck is usually the most awkward thing on the planet so I just end up bringing my own food. But not this time! One woman made vegan chili! It was such a nice gesture and it was good! It has inspired me to make chili soon. I was going to do it this week but we got caught on a soup train somehow.

On this day, we spent a lot of time working on hands-on techniques for relieving lower back pain in labour. We did a craft! That was fun for me. We used stamps, markers, glitter and ribbon to create our ~ideal birth~. It could involve anything, including giving birth in the middle of the ocean or on a hammock between two clouds and having George Washington as your midwife. I’m not aware of anyone drawing any past presidents on their sheets. We talked about getting personal liability insurance (something that never even crossed my mind) and having a back-up doula for every birth you’ve taken on. We talked a lot about cesarean section births and different options we can offer to our clients to help them feel more comfortable with this decision, if needed. And we talked about postpartum services we can offer as well as what’s important to talk about in the postnatal visits.

My list of books, websites and resources is getting longer and longer!

After the third day, we met up with Dave’s oldest friend and had dinner with him. It was raining and I was exhausted, but it was the perfect transition back into the “real world,” where no one cared to talk about back labour and placenta. I think they call that decompressing. Afterwards, I got myself a Starbucks treat and we hit the road! I recapped some of my day with Dave but most of it I kept to myself. I was happy to be going home and even happier to be one (huge) step closer to my final goal.

Yesterday I started reading different opinions about what to keep in your “doula bag”. My list right now is an arm’s length, so I think I’ll have to try a few things and see what I like/used and cut it down.

This was my bag for the weekend. Books, notepad, workbook, business cards, tissues, a water bottle and junior mints. What else could you need?

I guess that’s all I have to stay. I have a few updates to make to my To-Doula list, but that can wait. Right now, I’m working on getting my Facebook page up for my new business and getting my name out there! My childbirth classes (as an observer) start this week, as well. Exciting times ahead! Questions? Comments? Hit me with your best shot.


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