Many doulas find that they have an interest in teaching childbirth classes as well. Maybe you did that first, or maybe you saw an unfilled need once you started working with families in your community. Either way, it’s a role that can nicely dovetail with doula work. If you’re considering adding childbirth education to your birth professional skills, here are some things to consider:
Choose the Right Training – Childbirth education training generally falls into two categories: Training that teaches you to teach a specific method, and training that teaches you skills and information to create your own curriculum. I definitely chose the second, because that’s a better fit for me, but either approach can work. Think about what and how you’d like to teach and create a list of what you want, then look for an organization that matches your list.
Have a plan for covering classes if you’re with a client – Pretty much only a concern for birth doulas with their unpredictable schedules. Generally speaking, my clients don’t birth when I am teaching. In 17 years at my current teaching job, I have only once had a client in labor while I was teaching! I make sure they all know that I teach Wednesday nights, and they simply don’t birth then. Either that’s an incredible run of luck or there’s a mental aspect to the timing of my client’s birth times. I make sure my clients know that my first choice is to get a sub for my class, but that takes time so I need a big heads up. My second choice is a backup doula for those hours.
Employee or Independent? I’ve done both, and for the last 17 years I’ve been happily teaching as a hospital employee. Yes, teaching a quality childbirth class can be done in a hospital setting, though there can be challenges. I definitely don’t miss the extra work of securing a location, finding students, and ordering supplies! You may find employment as a childbirth educator with a health system, birth center, or community organization as well. As with most things in life, there’s no one right setting and you can figure out what is the best match for you.
Market well – this is vitally important if you are independent but also helpful if you’re employed by another organization. You certainly can funnel families who hire you (or even just inquire) to your classes as well.
Cover your costs – Before you set your prices and get established in the community at a specific price point, tally up your costs for location, supplies, teaching materials, marketing, etc. and make sure you cover those costs AND bring home an income.
Consider private classes, weekend classes, group classes and other setups. – The traditional weeknight series can absolutely work, but there is also a huge market for people who can’t do that format. I’ve always taught private classes as well as series classes. Those classes have been a good fit for people with irregular schedules (airline pilots, people who frequently travel, people who work evenings) and for people who are well known and value their privacy.