Can I Be a Good Newborn Care Specialist or Doula If I Do Not Have Children of My Own?

One of the questions I see often, from students is this: 

Can I be a good newborn care specialist or doula if I do not have children of my own?

And from parents, I hear quite often:
How can you (or someone else) be a good newborn care specialist or doula if they have never had children? They won’t understand.

And at first glance, these seem like legitimate questions.  It “seems” to make sense that someone would only understand if they had actually been through it themselves.  But let’s look at a great response to this question from Laura Nance, the director of Postpartum Education for CAPPA and doula trainer.  And then I will share a few thoughts of my own.  

Laura: I have been training doulas for over 18 years and have had very few trainings that didn't have someone without their own children in it. Having had your own baby doesn't necessarily make you a better doula. I have attended hundreds of births and I have yet to see someone who labored just like I did. I didn't have a cesarean and yet I have supported many through cesareans. Me having had babies doesn't mean I know exactly what this particular client is going through. What I have found with many doulas who haven't had their own kids (and not saying this IS the case, but it is most of the time) is that the doula goes into the interview or conversation apologizing, whether straight up or just by their behavior, for not having their own kids. Don't apologize with words or with actions. You don't even have to tell people you don't have kids unless they straight up ask. If they ask, just say I don't have any of my own kids. period. Don't "but" it. (as in I don't have my own kids, but...") and say it confidently, not like it is an issue. If they ask how you are able to be doula without having had a baby of your own, remind them that there are a lot of people who haven't had babies who support families in labor, and that what makes a doula is the ability to care for someone else, to see what needs to be done and do it. And that you recently took your training and practiced the skills, and learned all the latest information. (Ask yourself:) Why did you take a doula training? Most people didn't pay to sit in a training for however many hours if they didn't KNOW they had the skills to be a doula. SO what are those skills? Sell that.

I 100% agree with Laura here and was so impressed with her answer that I asked permission to share it in a blog. 

And I want to add a few thoughts of my own around this: 

Teachers without children teach incredibly effectively every single day all over the world and no one questions their ability to teach. 

Doctors  and midwives without children deliver babies every single day all over the world and no one who seeks them out questions their ability to do it. 

Veterinarians without pets take care of dogs and cats (and other animals) every day of the week and no one questions it.

See where I am going with this? 

However, I also want to acknowledge that this is a very real concern that many people have.  And I think it comes from a subconscious understanding that birthing and raising human beings is a task like no other and it carries a huge weight of responsibility, even if we don’t consciously verbalize it sometimes.  So while we certainly don’t want to minimize those concerns, we can respect and speak to them in an effective manner and almost always quell their worry. 

Are you interested in learning more about a career as a newborn care specialist?  Click here to check out training!

Interested in being a birth or postpartum doula? Click here to go to Laura’s site.
A parent looking to hire an Elite trained NCS? Click here to find many of our highly qualified caregivers.

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