So you’re all done with your doula training and you know all you need to know to support childbearing families, right? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The learning has just started. I started my journey into birth work in the fall of 1996 and I’m not even close to done learning everything there is to know. There is a vast amount of things to know, and new things are being invented and discovered all the time! Learning is a lifetime process, and the growth that comes from learning new things benefits you AND your clients.
Conferences and Trainings
Keep your certifications current by attending conferences and trainings to get continuing education hours. If there aren’t any in your area, find one you’d like to take and work with a presenter to bring it to your area. Or gather up the knowledge and experience of the birth professionals in your area and put on a conference!
Off the top of my head, ICEA, DONA and Lamaze all offer webinars periodically. There are probably others as well! Some have contact hours you can get, some will just give you the benefit of new information. The GOLD conferences online are another option.
If you hear something you don’t know much about, go out and learn about it! The internet has made that possible on a scale I could not have even imagined as a kid pestering adults and running to the library to look up the answers to my questions! You can cultivate curiosity by asking a lot of questions, trying to find connections, reading from a variety of sources, and giving yourself time to think away from TV and headphones.
Set Aside Time for Learning
I get curious WAY too often, and I love a good tangent. It can lead to me being sidetracked when I am trying to get stuff done, which isn’t good, either. What works for me is to set aside a few hours each month for following up on those things. If I see a link that is interesting but I don’t have time right then, I pin it to a secret Pinterest board I have called “To Learn”. I have a few hours scheduled on the last Tuesday of every month for following up on those things. Turns out that having it on my calendar and bookmarked means I actually DO follow up on those things, and I’m less likely to get sidetracked on other things.
Share What You’re Learning
When you teach something to someone else, it cements that learning in a very real way. The process of teaching, and being questioned, can also highlight gaps in your learning and encourage you to go back and learn more. All part of the process! You can do this informally with interested friends (maybe host a potluck dessert and share what you’ve learned night with other doulas!), in teaching clients about birth, or in writing through blogging or creating handouts.