Ask A Doula: How Many Births Have You Attended?

I’m the newest kind of doula there is – I just finished my training last week and haven’t been to any births yet. I’ve never even seen a birth outside of YouTube! While I am a mother of 4, all my kids were adopted from the foster care system and I’ve never given birth myself. When I talk to prospective clients, they always ask me how many births I have attended, and I need a better answer than ZERO.

This is that tough spot between the rock and the hard place. It’s hard to feel confident about talking with families looking for a doula when you know they will ask and an honest answer seems like it would make you look unqualified.

The good news is that you are qualified! Here are some ideas for finding your own strengths than you can emphasize when answering that question, or elsewhere in the interview:

  • Past experiences with supporting people through tough times – Have you worked in a profession where you used the same skills as doula work? Experience with motivating someone as an athletic trainer, or having worked as a nurse and helped people through painful situations can be ways to demonstrate applicable skills. If you ever worked as a mentor for other parents through the foster/adopt process, you probably have some strengths to share from those experiences.
  • Emphasize your training – Since it is so fresh in your mind, talk about the skills and techniques you learned in your training, and how what you’ve learned is very current and up-to-date.
  • The “no baggage” approach – One advantage of your situation is that you don’t have any mental hangups from a difficult birth experience, or a feeling of “my way is what works” from your own births. Point out to the prospective clients that you come into their birth with a clean slate and are open to all possibilities.
  • Emphasize connection – finding the right doula is about finding someone you are completely comfortable with in a very vulnerable time. That comfort level is more important than the number of births. If you have a personality that is able to build connections rapidly, this might be a good approach for you.

I recommend you take some time and do some journaling about how you might script an answer for each approach. Odds are one of them will come easier than the others, or one of them might help you find a tangential approach that works for you. I find having a sample script in mind that can be adapted to the situation makes answering tough questions much easier.

No matter what approach you take, know that you will get past this stage eventually, and that every single practicing doula out there had to make it past that point as well. Hang in there!

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