Doula Mentorship Program at Luma Yoga

Details of the 12 week doula mentorship program being taught at Luma Yoga in Santa Cruz, CA Wednesdays September 4th - November 20th 2019.

Course Objective

The mission of this pilot program is to give doulas professional development skills often overlooked in traditional doula trainings. The topics covered will be diverse, but all focused toward sustainability in their practices, their lives, and the environment.

Audience

This course will be suitable for doulas at any stage in their careers. It is open to other professionals working with folks in the childbearing years, including midwives and nannies, and doulas who also provide complementary services like birth photography, prenatal massage or yoga, lactation support, childbirth education, and placenta encapsulation, etc. 

Overview

This course will be taught in the style of a college-level certification course with homework assignments each week and a short final presentation. Information will be driven by research and real-life experience to provide the mentees with a high caliber of resources. The process of becoming certified through Rosewood will extend beyond the twelve week program with additional mentorship and requirements within a six month period to obtain certification. 

There is a larger objective toward bringing this profession out of an unregulated and often misunderstood gray area both in the Santa Cruz birth professionals community and eventually on a nation-wide scale. 

 

Weekly topic Outline

 

Establishing a Professional Voice

Beyond spending some time in this first session going through some housekeeping and general notes with the group, this class will be on creating a personal vision for their practice. This will include branding, marketing, visual elements, social media presence, and authenticity in interviews. 

Contracts (Weeks 2 + 3)

This topic will be split into two weeks to allow both a thorough overview of the foundations of contracts and some time to explore specifics and do some role playing. The overall mission of spending so much time on this topic is to cover sustainability in birth work from a variety of angles — setting fees, setting expectations, figuring out boundaries, and formulating formal professional obligations within solo practices and beyond. This is one of the biggest missing elements from this sort of work and deserves the extra attention. We’ll be working from my booklet Contract Writing for Doulas in these weeks and each participant will receive a printed version of the book to keep.

Fees, Trades, and Volunteer Work

Setting financial boundaries is an important aspect of setting up a financially and emotionally lucrative birth practice. Spring boarding off the contract discussions, this week will be about the standards of income flow and rates specific to this community, as well as creative ways of prioritizing money coming in and out of their practices. We’ll discuss how to create sliding scale documents and how to discuss / advertise that option. We’ll also hit on how to utilize trade within our own communities to draw on the varying skills amongst our colleagues while respecting their work and keeping our overhead costs low. Additionally, the issue of ethics around price and volunteer work will be hit on before redressing it from another (non-financial) angle in Week 10.

Setting Positive Expectations

Though the utilization of privately hired care providers in birth and beyond is becoming increasingly common, there is still a huge educational gap in terms of what we are able and obligated to provide. This week will cover how to take the Scope of Practice terms we’ve discussed in Weeks 2&3 and the financial boundaries and expectations in Week 4 to set personal and positive boundaries for ourselves and our clients. Recognizing that it’s a two-way street and that individual care providers are free to set their own practice limits, this class will be geared toward putting the questions out into the open and allowing each doula present to choose their own path for setting terms of service and expectations. 

Finding and Using Evidence-Based Information

This week will be all about helping birth workers discern good sources from sensational misinformation. Issues around understanding and addressing bias will come up, as well as how to empathetically steer clients towards more accurate and helpful information. I’ll be sharing actual misrepresentations of studies geared towards parents and use case studies to highlight how easy it can be to get lost in the swamp of fear-based and/or shallow sources aimed at parents. Hopefully from there, they will feel more confident about collecting their own high-level educational material for themselves and their clients. 

Toward a More Ecologically Minded Practice

While this may seem like a niche topic, it actually creates a space to talk about a number of issues around sustainability in all senses within our work. Helping parents buy less, reduce fear, and utilize more scientifically accurate information can help us have more productive and perhaps MORE visits with our clients. Why are doulas seen as a luxury item when buying baby gadgets and clothes for thousands and thousands of dollars is the norm? By exploring ways of incorporating “green” and minimalist parenting practices, doulas may be able to help parents free up resources to spend on hiring birth workers and improve the health of their children and the planet. This strikes me as such a win-win topic to talk more directly about amongst colleagues. 

Maximizing Non-Billable Hours

This week is all about finding creative, low-cost, efficient ways of spending our small-business running hours. How to doulas navigate the midfield of business apps and programs? How much time and effort should be dedicated to attending doula meetings or classes? How can we create systems to avoid burn out while increasing client load? What does work-life balance look like in such a changing and unpredictable profession? This week is again taught in a way that brings questions to the surface and helps doulas navigate their own pathways to success rather than giving a prescriptive model with promised outcomes. 

Building Partnerships, Collectives, and Agencies

Each of the weeks have laid a foundation toward this particular discussion in some way. In many professional circles aiming for more access and sustainability in birth work, the discussions have focused strongly on moving midwifery and doula work away from such isolated solo endeavors and into more collective efforts. There are many different and creative examples of how this can look, which is incredibly exciting. Having helped build doula groups, partnerships, agencies, collectives, volunteer groups, and sections of maternal health related non-profits, I’ve had the opportunity to explore these concepts in detail and work towards their implementation. I, too, feel like sharing workload and intentionally pulling resources together with our colleagues is the future of sustainable birth work. Excited to share these insights more moving forward. 

Togetherness for Greater Autonomy — Defining Our Work Ourselves (3 hr)

Issues of collective identity, standardization of scope of practice, access, and accountability have emerged en masse as doulas become a more regular part of the experiences of folks in this country throughout a range of reproductive health situations. As this profession (and the complimentary skills beyond our standard definitions of care) become more utilized, so too comes a closer examination of our roles. If we want to avoid being defined and regulated by folks who do not understand the nuances of our work, it is crucial that we set about pushing to better define ourselves. We’ll be looking at the cases of Midwifery Licensing in Oregon and Colorado as well as the recent bill passed in New York State regarding the status of certification amongst doulas. The goal of the class is to come up with a Scope of Practice to present to the doula community in this area and a Mission Statement to become part of a national project toward collective doula identity.

Peer Review

The reasoning and means to create a system of peer review is woven throughout this program. This week we’ll actually be DOING a peer review. Each participant will have the opportunity to present a case for review and receive constructive feedback from their peers. As in all professional review, this will be done confidentially and respectfully. 

Additional Thoughts

This last week will hopefully be celebratory and light. I want to leave space for tying up loose ends, talking about what the certification process will entail, and making sure we’re leaving feeling inspired and validated. It’ll be a potluck style gathering and each doula will have a chance to do a short presentation on something they’ve dug deeper into while taking the course. 

Course Methodology

Some weeks will be more lecture-based and others will have a looser workshop style to them, depending on the topic. I have a strong drive toward crowdsourcing the experiences of the participants to keep this program as inclusive and efficient as fitting for the individual participants. 

The idea is that the movement toward talking more community building and activism topics will build through the first few weeks so that the participants grow comfortable with each other and confident in their voices. 

Homework assignments won’t be checked directly, but will offer a head start on the topic for the next week while helping hone in on the areas within that topic participants find most fitting in their unique practice. 

There will be a printed workbook for : class activities, to use in the case of a missed class, to fill in homework assignments, to reference for the final assignment toward certification, and keep for personal use as the build or expand their doula practices. 

 

Pricing : $1095 ($995 if registered before August 5th). Includes all course materials and enrollment in the 6 month certification program. Payment plans available.

*Counts toward CEUs for Cornerstone (contract writing requirement for birth and postpartum doulas) and BEST Doula programs.