Birth Ways International Doula Training – How to get to births!

August 21, 2020

Part 3 of a 3-part series by Karen Herriot

Everything is exciting when you are a newer doula and want to book your first client and attend your first birth. We see this passion and motivation from our Birth Ways International Doula Training graduates, and it is inspiring to see!

Use this excitement to get clear about feeling ready for clients. Use this passion to do some work and complete the steps that will take you closer to getting doula clients. Here are some ideas for you.

Be the doula who has the:

  • Lending library. Start building your library or making a list of great books for clients
  • List of great pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding websites to visit, podcasts to listen to, and amazing evidence-based resources to refer to
  • Great listening ear to hear women’s stories about their appointments, pregnancy issues, and birth fears
  • Non-judgemental ear to listen to birth stories, both good and bad
  • Comfort to accompany clients to doctor’s appts, prenatal yoga class, ultrasounds
  • Time to go to breastfeeding class with them or attend a La Leche League meeting with them
  • Interest to help them draft, edit and complete a birth plan

Know the types of clients you are open to working with and make a list. Some examples include teens, couples, VBAC, new Canadians, single-moms, and same-sex. You may also want to note any other experience working in related areas: offering support at the teen school program, volunteering at the second-stage houses, assisting folks who are learning English, etc.

Become more aware of the birth networks in your community. Meet and get to know birth-related professionals and caregivers (Angie Evans being one of them). These include midwives, pelvic floor physios, chiropractors who are trained to turn breech babies or assist newborns with a crooked neck, and more.

Here are some other ideas:

  • If someone expresses her confusion over an issue or topic, you could offer to look up some solid information for her and refer her to that
  • Join the doula circle in your area or online
  • Get additional doula-related training in setting up birth pools, making birth plans, using a rebozo, breath techniques, belly casts, photography
  • Once you get to know other doulas, offer to help them by setting up birth pools, taking photographs, doing childcare, backing them up
  • Work on your doula resume and get friends and colleagues to give your testimonials about your trustworthiness, resourcefulness, compassion
  • Lots of the requirements of the Birth Ways International certification program are great ways to get to births and prepare yourself for clients!

Finally, practice words and find phrases that describe your work that you are comfortable with:   

I am fully trained to support you through your pregnancy and labour.

I am prepared to work in a variety of settings, have toured and am familiar with the facilities in our community.

I have networked with other birth professionals and caregivers, know the childbirth education options in this area and have access to many resources I will share with you.

I have skills to tailor my doula support to meet your individual needs so you can make informed choices during your pregnancy and feel empowered to know your options and be informed through your labour and birth.

Self Care for Doulas – Interview with Mindset Coach Suzanne Culberg

August 6, 2020

Thank you Suzanne Culbert for the great interview about self-care for doulas and our navigation between work and health. We talk about a variety of topics during the interview. Managing notifications, being prepared, meal planning, and more! Have a watch and let us know what you think!

Suzanne is a mindset coach for weight loss. She believes that people often gain too much weight because they give too much help to others. They over-eat because they over-give.

The solution is to deal with the pattern of overgiving, not the pattern of over-eating. Deal with that and the food issues will largely take care of themselves.

Suzanne’s passion to help women is fueled by her own weight journey. She went from 150kg to maintaining the healthy 72kg she is now.

Suzanne knows that no single approach is right for every individual and so she uses a mix of modalities. Neuro-Linguistic Programming, hypnosis, and energy healing to give her clients the accountability to create lasting change. Self care is very important so check her offerings out.

Ways you can connect with Suzanne:


Birth Ways International offers a variety of workshops and educational opportunities to Birth Professionals online, so you can take them from wherever you are located! Please contact us for more information on our upcoming classes!

You’ve Already Got This: Making Your Doula Resume

July 27, 2020

Part 2 of a 3-part series by Karen Herriot

If you were to write your resume based on how many births you had been to as a new doula, it would probably be pretty short. This is why you should focus on skills and qualifications you already possess through life lived and training received when looking for clients at this early stage in your journey.

If you can’t fill out your doula resume with direct experience of birth, focus instead on training, skills, and qualities. 

Below are a few tips and tricks for each section.

Doula Resume - Training:

  • Begin with the depth and scope of your birth or postpartum classes. Look to your manual for specifics to include re: what you completed in the process of your workshop.
  • Include if you are in the certification stream and deepening your training in that way.
  • List any continuing education classes that you may have taken. Examples include comfort measures, dealing with trauma, setting up a birth pool, rebozo etc.
  • Note that you can attend a prenatal yoga class or childbirth education class without a client. This will add them to your resume and also allow you to knowledgeably refer clients to specific courses.
  • If you have any other relevant certificates or training such as massage therapy, early childhood education, effective listening, Reiki etc.

Doula Resume - Skills:

  • Skills can overlap with training but are also often developed outside of formal classes or training throughout your life. For example, you can write “comfort with baby-care” if you have real world experience in your own life with newborns.
  • If you are just starting out, you likely cannot get written testimonials from birth clients to validate your skills.  You should turn to other employers or connections for endorsements, from former babysitting clients to friends.
  • Here are just a few other examples of casual skills: massage, comfort and pain relief techniques, writing and research skills, and mindfulness and breath techniques.

Doula Resume - Qualities:

  • This section of your doula resume is about telling your client that you are someone they want in the room before, during, and after birth. 
  • A few examples are: being non-judgemental listener, trustworthy, confidential, accepting, possessing a sense of humour, and being a good communicator. 
  • This is another area where you could ask friends and former employers to endorse you. Go for a walk with someone and ask them if you possess certain qualities. Record their responses in your phone, and (with permission) quote them on your resume. 

The resume can include some lists - making these lists will give you a better understanding of how doulas like you meet the needs of clients and boost your confidence. 

Make a list of:

  • What the client might need.  Brainstorm all the things they know they need, even desperately need. You can also add in things they think they might need, and do not yet know they need.
  • Examples: resources for preparing for birth, list of available prenatal classes, breastfeed circles, making a birth plan. Other examples include thinking about their postpartum needs, labour comfort measures, facilitating shared decision making during the birth, and more.
  • What you can do to meet those needs - see if you feel ready to do this or if you need a refresher. Consider re-watching some videos from your training body, or taking a continuing ed class.

Basically you are facilitating a conversation that allows them to consider needs (always worthwhile). This leads into a discussion about how you can meet those needs and help to reduce their stress prenatally. This helps them prepare for an empowered  labour

The first step is processing this and writing it down for yourself, in your resume of awesomeness.

Birth Ways International offers a variety of workshops and educational opportunities to Birth Professionals online. And you can take them from wherever you are located! Please contact us for more information on our upcoming classes!

Why you’re a doula even if you haven’t been to a birth

July 16, 2020

Part 1 of a 3-part series by Karen Herriot

When I’m training doulas I always recommend that they make a skills-based resume that outlines the qualities of a doula that they possess. The process of making this document serves two purposes. Firstly, this is a resource they could bring to meetings with a potential client. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this exercise assures an “inexperienced” doula of the qualifications they already possess. 

There is a catch-22 when starting out as a birth doula: you feel you can’t offer your services until you can tell your clients you have been to x number of births, but you can’t get to births without offering your services. 

There is more to being a doula than just attending births.

If you are a recently trained doula, your training and manual has already prepared you to carry out many of the tasks that precede and follow birth. This has nothing to do with whether you have been present at a birth. It is also more than likely that your life up to that point has given you many of the skills a doula needs. 

This is why going through the qualifications and attributes of a doula and seeing how they apply to you is such an important process for a new doula.

Doula Training preparation

Here is a list to get you started:

A Birth Doula

  • Acts as non-judgemental listener
  • Works with integrity, reliability, and professionalism 
  • Is a confidential confidant
  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the client will remember for the rest of their life
  • Understands the emotional needs of a person in pregnancy and labour 
  • Assists the client in preparing for and carrying out their hopes and dreams for birth through prenatal meetings, texts, and phone calls
  • Accompanies them to doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and prenatal yoga
  • Suggests good childbirth education classes and attends 
  • Suggests good breastfeeding classes and attends 
  • Helps with the birth plan and educates on local hospital protocols
  • Educates on the importance of informed consent
  • Shares evidence-based resources with the client
  • Helps prepare for doctor appointments 
  • Says “I don’t know” if that’s the case
  • Moves fears and worries to wishes and choices
  • Gives ideas for involving the partner and family in the birth
  • Discusses useful contents for the birth bag as well as ways to set up the home
  • Prepares client for after the birth by making a postpartum plan
  • Informs the client on the optimal fetal position before they go into labour 
  • Assists client with position changes and choices
  • Stays with the client throughout the labour creating a cocoon of sacred space
  • Discusses early labour at home and how to use this time well 
  • Joins them at home when they need support
  • Helps with transition to hospital 
  • Provides emotional and physical comfort and helps the client get the information she needs to make fully informed decisions and to know all their options
  • Facilitates communication between the labouring person, their partner, and clinical care providers in an effective manner; prepares the client for this beforehand
  • Nurtures and protects the client’s memory of the birth experience; listens to their story
  • Assists the client’s partner to participate; clarifies expectations of between the client and their partner 

Even if, reading through this list, you are thinking that you have not performed several or most of these skills — you know to do them, and that’s enough.

You are a fully trained doula passionate about birth and already skilled in many ways. Doulas without any birth experience can hold that space for clients. You are enough.  

“We think our job as humans is to avoid pain, our job as parents [or doulas] is to protect our children [clients] from pain and our job as friends is to fix each other’s pain...people...don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What they need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us.”

-Glennone Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Birth Ways International offers a variety of workshops and educational opportunities to Birth Professionals online, so you can take them from wherever you are located! Please contact us for more information on our upcoming classes!

Nature’s Epidural – Water for Comfort in Birth

January 18, 2020

Did you know using the bath, shower or pool is like a natural pain-killer? Many birth-workers call it “nature’s epidural”. Being in water can help your labouring client feel a sense of privacy and bring great comfort for many, decreasing the sensation of pain. Even for clients who plan to use pain meds, spending time in the water can allow them to cope better if:

  1. They’re waiting for meds;
  2. It’s too soon to go to the hospital;
  3. They wish to put off using medications until later in their birth.  (Remember, it’s never too late to get an epidural.)


  1. If your client enjoys the shower, have them pack a shower curtain and a few rings in their birth-bag. (I carry these in my doula-bag in case they forget.)
  2. If they enjoy the bath, have them pack a “drain overflow cover” so they can get a few more inches of water in those short baths that are in many hospitals.
  3. In many areas, clients with a midwife can likely have a water birth (or at least a water-labour) at home or hospital. The birth-pool can be used at home for labour, even if your client is not going to have a waterbirth.
  4. Smart doulas bring shoes that can get wet and extra clothes in case their client loves the pool.
  5. Those same smart doulas advise birth companions to bring a swim-suit and extra clothes, shoes that can get wet.

Of course, a nice deep birth-pool is the very best way to use the benefits of water in labour. We teach doulas how to set-up, maintain, put away the pool and care for their floating clients in our Birth Pool Class.

Props can be used wisely with water during labour too.

  • If the shower is big enough for a birth-ball, then go ahead and put one in there so your client can sit on it or lean on it.
  • It’s OK to put towels or padding down to keeps knees or feet happier.
  • Wireless monitors can be used in the shower or bath in case continuous monitoring is needed.
  • Any massage tools used by doulas can get wet.

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