On the 11th day of doula school my trainer gave to me….

Thoughts on the Future of the Doula Profession

I follow a lot of Facebook doula groups and one of the comments I see regularly is something to the effect of ‘whether it’s possible to be a doula as a ‘real’ profession’. Or people comment about how ‘others in their lives have been negative about the idea of becoming a doula’ etc. So I thought I’d take a stab at sharing some thoughts around these ideas…cause they DRIVE ME NUTS!!!

8 Thoughts on the Future of the Doula Profession

1 – More doulas than ever are making a legitimate income from doula work.

I see more and more doulas making full-time incomes from doula work. Anywhere you look online and certainly around me in my urban centre, I’m seeing a lot of doulas make legitimate incomes from doula work. I know several who are the main income earner in their home. Now, this isn’t to say that people NEED to make a full-time income. A lot of people become doulas so they have more time with their children and do the work as a part-time income supplement to their family’s household income. I LOVE that this work can allow for many options!

2 – Doula agencies are becoming more common and more popular

When I started my doula agency around 2008 I had never heard of an agency before. I didn’t even call it an agency at that time. The wording would come a few years after as the concept gained momentum. I created an agency because I got calls from doulas and childbirth educators all the time who asked how I did what I did. My partner suggested I teach them how to do it. My original model was to teach but I quickly realized a lot of people didn’t want to learn how to do it; they wanted to do doula work. The business side of doula work stands in the way of a lot of people being able to do doula work. This is why the agency model has helped our profession grow. There is no shame in working for others! Heck, this concept of everyone needing to run their own practice is a waste! We’re so much stronger together and I am glad that those who enjoy the business side are finally able to make an impact for their families and other doulas who want to work in this model.

3 – There are more and more doula programs opening all over

You don’t need to look too far to find another doula program popping up. I am constantly seeing new stories about hospital doula programs, community programs, etc. More and more are paid programs, which to me is an absolute requirement for the future of doulas. But we all need to start somewhere and I’m grateful for the programs that run as volunteer programs for the benefit of our profession. These amazing programs get more traction and awareness and are a key stepping stone in getting funding for doula work.

4 – We’re seeing more funding for doula services

We’re also seeing more and more funding for doula services. I’ve seen two major funding initiatives in my community and more and more peopel are working on them all the time. I was part of a team that pitched a large funder and when I walked in the room I’ll admit I was a little worried that half the judges were older males (not typically the demographic that knows what we do), but to my utter delight, two of them had adult daughters who had used doulas and they spoke so highly of the value. We went on to win some funding from that pitch.

5 – Fees for doula services are increasing

Fees for doula work are increasing everywhere. Of course in urban centres we’re seeing significant package fees, typically over a thousand dollars and in some areas over $2,000! I think this shows how valuable the service is being perceived. In our area we’re seeing more people book us early 8-12 weeks which allows them to pay over a longer period of time. If you’re in a smaller area, don’t fret! We see lower fees in suburban areas and in rural areas too! But remember that your cost of living is lower and salaries are typically lower too. I’ve noticed that the typical doula package is about equal to a month of daycare in that area. Check it out and see if that works in your area too!

6 – There are more doula trainings than ever before

The last time I saw a count of trainings it was over 140! OMG. That seems crazy and I’d like to see that streamlined, but that’s a discussion for another time. The fact of the matter is… the reason there are SO many trainings is because doula work has become so popular. Yay!

7 – The word ‘doula’ is seen in media more often than before

We are always seeing celebrity interviews mentioning their doula. We see news articles, radio segments, TV interviews and more. Did you see the question on Jeopardy that had’doula’ as the answer? It’s so fun to see these mentions, but they definitely aren’t surprising me anymore.

8 – We’re more accepted by health care providers than ever before

The last several times I’ve walked into a birth I’ve been greeted with warm smiles and welcome comments. It is so refreshing from the days of old when I had to prove myself every time. If you still live in an area where you feel this way, keep the faith! I promise you, better times are ahead. Just look at all the progress we’ve made and continue to make!

If this isn’t representative of a growing profession, I don’t know what is! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author

Stefanie Antunes has been a Lamaze® Educator and doula since 2002, after the birth of her second son showed her just how valuable it isStefanie Antunes to be prepared for birth and to have good support around you.

Stefanie is a visionary in the childbirth field. She leads the Discover Birth organization providing a variety of services to expectant parents and training for those wishing to pursue work in the childbirth field. Stefanie is a board member with the Association of Ontario Doulas, former Public Relations Director for DONA International, and sits on many local boards and coalitions to improve our communities. She is a DONA-approved Birth Doula Trainer, runs an Approved Program for Lamaze International and runs two doula agencies Discover Birth and The Nesting Place.

Stefanie is the founder of The Birth Doula Program Hospital .

Stefanie is a contributing author in the best selling Power of Women United and the book Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas. She is a regular contributing writer and blogger, and has done many interviews online and for TV/radio.

Before becoming a doula, Stefanie worked in corporate intelligence, helping large companies keep abreast of their markets and competitors. She now works to bring some of those same skills to the doula profession, helping it grow and prosper, along with its many doula members.