Our guest today, Tahira Henderson, has a rather unique occupation. She is a Doula, or sometimes called a Perinatal Community Health Worker, in the Washington, DC area. A doula, who can be either male or female, is a trained patient companion in medical situations. Doulas offer support during pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum, and some are now are being trained to work with end of life patients as well. Their main focus is to make the patient feel safe and comfortable.
Prior to becoming a doula, Tahira thought that this was just a boutique experience for those who could afford it.
“Now I see how we impact the lives of the women we serve by having a holistic approach. I am able to empower women to make healthy decisions regarding their children.”
Wanting to explore the possibility of becoming a doula, Tahira became a volunteer at a local women’s health clinic. After the initial training, she was able to shadow and learn from others in the profession. After deciding to become a full-time doula, and receiving additional training, she is now a part of a collective that focuses on the need of African American mothers. Although they will serve anyone, their focus is on African American mothers because their mortality rates are higher than those in any other developed nation.
Doulas are continually learning so that they are able to be as supportive as possible, but it does not require a degree to become a doula. Being a doula can be a non-traditional career path. The doula can be either male or female, although most women are more comfortable being around another woman. Doulas can be independent contractors, or employees. Each state has its own requirements.
If you are interested in becoming a Doula, decide if you want to work full time, or balance it with a regular 9-5. If training is not offered in your area, many training options can be found online. A good place to start is with DONA, International.