3 Things I Didn't Expect When I Was A New Doula

Welcome to the Doulahood!

You’ve decided that you want to be a doula. Great! Let me be the first to say Welcome to the Doulahood! You’ve picked an awesome community to be a part of. Becoming a doula has been by far the most rewarding career that I’ve ever had. But, there were a few things I wish I’d known before dipping my toes into the doula pool.


Below I’ve listed 3 things that were not so obvious to me when I initially embarked on my journey to become a doula.

You won’t always use the tricks in your bag.

Don’t be ashamed. We all do it. You spend your entire training picturing all of the fancy items you’re going to buy for your freshly starched doula bag. Then, as soon the ink is dry on that shiny new certificate you head to the nearest department store to spend a fortune on doula supplies! Sound familiar?

I booked my first clients right out of doula training and boy was I ready for them! I had a bag full of neat massage tools, an expensive book that was literally overflowing with labor positions, and a fully inflated exercise ball! I crammed that exercise ball into the back of my Yaris (Yikes!), busted out a few last minute stretches, and prepared to support my first family.

I was ready for the Doula Hula!

13 hours later the family welcomed a beautiful baby boy and I had not used one single item from my bag. Not one item! What my clients needed me for the most was to be there and tell them everything was going to be ok. And that’s what I did. Turns out, no matter how many fancy positions you know or how expensive the items in your bag of tricks are, many families are comforted by your presence alone.

Don’t get me wrong: As a doula, you should always be thoroughly prepared to support your clients in whatever way they need you to. But don’t be surprised if you spend an entire labor swapping one cool face cloth for another.

That cool face cloth could be one of the most valuable tools you have to offer to that particular client. It doesn’t mean that you are any less of a doula. So, be proud and hold that face cloth high! Trust me, your clients will thank you!

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You’ll have to touch people.

And not the ‘Nice to meet you, lets shake hands’ kind of touching either. I mean full on ‘We’re basically family now’ touching. Seriously guys, being a doula means that you have to be pretty comfortable getting all up in someone’s business, know what I’m saying?

It’s inevitable that you’re going to be asked to apply the double hip squeeze to a mama that is completely naked. Labor is a lot of hard work and it gets hot up in there! Nakedness comes with the territory.

There will also be times when you are nose to nose with a client who is on the brink of giving up and all she wants you to do is look her in the eye, caress her face, tell her she’s beautiful, and remind her of what a fantastic job she’s doing (I’ll take that any day!)

The point is, labor and childbirth are extremely intimate processes that we, as doulas, have the honor of witnessing. Being a doula means that you have to be comfortable with getting in there and getting your hands dirty in anyway that your client needs you to, even if that means holding a naked mama in the middle of a bathroom as she works through a contraction.

Try not to overthink it. Just be prepared to smile, roll your sleeves up, and hold something. And remember, you’re providing families with a tremendous service!

You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I remember sitting across from a couple at a local Bread Co. and almost immediately figuring out that there was something they didn’t like about me. I didn’t know what it was, and I still don’t know to this day. They were super sweet though, and we ended the interview on a good note.

But, I knew they would never call back. And they didn’t.

I was kind of dumbfounded because I had basically nailed my first 4 interviews as a new doula. And I had begun this interview the same as I had 4 times before. I was on time, I had on smart attire, I introduced myself, my resume was perfectly polished and hot off the printer… Literally, it scorched my hand when I picked it up off of the printer. (Thank you for the chuckle, I’m here all night ;-) You get the picture.

Anyhoo, back to the regularly scheduled programming. The point is that I hadn’t been prepared to NOT nail the interview. And I was devastated when the client didn’t hire me. But, over the course of my doula career I’ve learned 2 very important things:

1) There’s a doula out there for everyone and

2) I have to accept I won’t always be what a client is looking for (I’m awesome anyway!)

It’s as simple as that. You may not ever know why you weren’t hired by a particular client. The important thing is to keep putting yourself out there and working hard to attract the clients that you are meant to work with.

Trust me, they’re out there!


Daisha Smith
Birth & Postpartum Doula
Parent & Professional Educator

Kate Schnetzer