Ask A Doula: When will I ever feel confident?

Q When did you start feeling like you knew what you were doing? I’m a newer birth and postpartum doula and have worked with three clients. They’ve all been happy with me and have given me good evaluations for my certification. One even wrote me a testimonial and said I could give her number out as a reference. I still feel like I don’t know enough to be good at my job and it’s discouraging me. When did you start feeling like you were good at what you do and worth hiring? Was it a certain number of clients? Certain amount of time?

A Oh how I know that feeling! For me it is a constant cycle, even after 20 years. Every time I get feeling confident, a birth or client challenges me and shows me my weakness. I get stronger in that area, start feeling confident again, and BAM! the cycle repeats! The cycle varies in length, though, and the build in confidence is sometimes really slow. Sometimes I don’t even realize I feel more confident until I look back. You’ve worked with three happy and satisfied clients! Do you feel any differently than before that first client? When you walk into the room with a client who needs you, do you have some idea what to do? I hope you saved those comments on the evaluations and the testimonials. I have a collection of handwritten notes and an email folder where I keep all the good things people have told me about my work and about how I have influenced and helped them. When I’m feeling particularly down, I go back and read them and it helps.

I know a doula who journals after every single client, doing a self evaluation and asking themselves what they learned from the birth, what they felt like they could have done better, and what they did well. It doesn’t have to be in writing, but that kind of self-evaluation can be really good for your growth. Just make sure it’s a balanced self evaluation, and not a harsh critique.

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