Among clients and the doula profession alike there are often questions about doulas who have not had children of their own. These doulas are often referred to as the childless doula.
The Childless Doula
As a doula of almost 20 years I have worked with doulas from all backgrounds. As a result, I’ve come to some conclusions of my own. I’d like to share my thoughts with you on this topic today.
Through my years of practice, I have been a solo doula working with a backup.
I have been a part of a doula collective.
I have started my own doula agency.
My experience and longevity in the field have led me to some pretty amazing conclusions. Childless doulas rock!
While there are many reasons I feel this way, today I’m going to give you two of the big ones.
One of the biggest challenges for doulas surrounding our unpredictable schedule is often childcare. As a labor doula, we often leave our beds in the middle of the night. We may be gone for a few hours. Or we may be gone for a few days. As we leave our homes we must have a plan in place for our children. School, daycare, activities, sports, all need to be tended to in our absence when we have children.
We have to have a fail-proof plan in place to make sure children are cared for while we are gone.
If you think that sounds overwhelming and virtually impossible, you’re right. There is a lot of juggling that goes into making it work. Other things, such as illness in our children can limit our availability as well. The doula who doesn’t have children has one less ball in the air when it comes to juggling the work.
Second, childless doulas often have less birth baggage.
For many doulas, the motivation to become a doula can link back to their own personal birth experiences. Unfortunately, not all of those experiences are positive. As a doula trainer, I often see people come to doula training with a deeply rooted desire to help others avoid a certain type of birth experience. Most commonly they want to help others avoid the experience they had.
However, it is not the role of a doula to try and save others. In fact, it can be quite damaging to the client for the doula to try and influence them to make the choices that the doula feels are best, versus what the client deems best.
This dynamic can harm both the doula and the client.
For doulas, this can lead to burnout, vicarious trauma and trigger unwanted feelings about their own experiences. It is imperative that the doula process her own experiences before working with clients.
The doula who has not experienced birth comes to the client as a clean slate. Free from their own bias founded in personal experience. With no desire to influence the outcome to avoid seeing their own experience repeated. Free from the need to direct or control the experience to avoid negative feelings or triggers.
Of course, there are variables. Some doulas may not be childless by choice. They may have suffered their own losses that can color their approach to client support. Perhaps, they have lost and grieved children. The struggle of infertility may be a very real part of their lives. They may have some baggage that they need to work through as well.
Don’t discount a doula because they may not have given birth before or because they don’t have children. Some of the best doulas I have ever worked with and some of the best doulas who have ever worked for me did not have children. They are compassionate, caring, intuitive individuals who give 100% and they are not less experienced or less capable to provide you awesome support just because they don’t have children of their own.
Judge them by how they make you feel. Do they put you at ease?
Do you feel heard?
Can you feel that they are in tune with your goals and responsive to your needs?
Let these aspects of their lives guide you. For they are what matter most.