MBC volunteer doulas had a potluck meeting the other night, and the subject of doula training came up, as it always does when you get a few doulas together.
Here in Montreal, we have a good selection of opportunities for would-be doulas - but more about that in a minute. First, the whole question of training. We do not need to be trained, any more than doulas are "coaches". One reason why we have to keep using terms that we perhaps don't agree completely with is the grip the internet and its rules has over our choices. "Training" is a keyword that many people will use. Many doula "trainers" will agree with me, this is not an exact description of what we do, but for now, that's the word we agree to use.
Suggestions? Doula guidance? Flaky. Doula program? Could work. Doula course? Too limited.
A good doula training will include teaching, guiding, role-play, hands on experience, and, exceptionally, teaching by example. Usually, the course will have some kind of text, or at least some handouts, to follow; some physical demonstrations; and a role-playing segment where the students can get a sense of what it is really like to assist a birthing woman.
Montreal doula trainings come in two flavors: French, and English. The English programs seem to be few and far between, but most of the would-be doulas here usually find their fit. DONA, the international doula organization, does doula trainings very rarely here, but I have met a few women who have travelled to Ottawa to do their trainings. They cost around $400 for a weekend, and do not include shadowing or mentorship, but do give a good basic foundation. Alternative Naissance also does trainings in English twice a year.
The most well known, and the most comprehensive training in Montreal is the one run by Motherwit. Most of the English speaking doulas in town have graduated, or in the process of working on, this training. It gives the student an excellent preparation for working within the Montreal health care system - which is no easy task! These classes are run two or three times a year, and fill up fast. Mentorship and shadowing is also possible within the program. This is a great course run by a wonderful woman.
I also take on apprentices and run quirky doula courses. I am organizing one in Barbados for the third week of February, in conjunction with the Birth House in Bridgetown. This summer, in July, I will be teaming up with Lewis Mehl-Madrona to lead a retreat in a fantastic spot in Italy, Casa della Pace. This will be a retreat opportunity for birth workers, writers, and any one interested in healing through story.
I am often approached by would-be doulas for shadowing and apprenticeship possibilities, and I am very open to those. I have four apprentices working with me now, and one in particular is doing a self-directed program using my book as a foundation, in preparation for midwifery training.
If you are interested in any of these possibilities, please email me for further information.
One question the women had the other night was "What if I do the training - and none of them are free! - and then I find out I don't want to be a doula after all"?
My answer is this: "Learn and keep on learning." You will not waste the money and effort doing a good doula program. So much of it prepares you for life, not just for working as a doula. I have learned so much over the years working as a doula that I hope to apply to how I live. Of course, it is important to find the right teacher, and you will know that right away. The choice should be made that way, however, not by price, effort, or convenience. Find a mentor, learn from her. Talk to other doulas. Volunteer. Keep an open mind and an open heart.
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