K.C. asks from Round Rock, TX on February 25, 2011
Becoming a Doula or a Lactation Consultant
I need some advice and I figured that it was likely that some of the moms on here do these jobs. I am interested in becoming a certified doula, lactation consultant, or ultimately both. I have been researching and am still kind of at a loss as to where to start. I would really love the experience of being a doula and it seems to me like it will be easier to get started at, there are a lot of steps but it is clear what order to do them and not so many volunteer hours are required. However I am not sure if it is going to be the best place to start- are doulas in high demand and will I be able to make back my costs to certify and then some? Enough to pay for childcare while I work at least?
Nursing is something that is very important to me too, and I would love to be involved spreading awareness and helping moms be successful. I am not sure if it would be better to work towards becoming a lactation consultant at the same time as I am working to become a doula, or to wait until after (or vice versa). And as far as becoming a lactation consultant I am kind of at a loss as to what to do first and how long it really takes. I have been wanting to go to my local LLL meetings but of course they meet on Thursday nights and the only times I am unavailable are Tuesday and Thurday nights. It is a wise career path? Really any information or advice you mommas can offer would be fantastic. Thanks!
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone! I am going to try to move forward and certify with DONA as a doula. I have ordered the required reading books and I will start there, and sign myself up for a weekend of training.Thanks for the link to the local doula association! As I gain experience I believe that I will be doing some births for free or a very nominal fee, but do you have any idea for experienced and certified doulas about what the going rate is in the Austin area?
A.S. answers from Houston on February 26, 2011
Doulas in the Austin area are fairly in demand. One place to start is to contact the Central Texas Doula Association and perhaps go to one of their meetings. Some of them can probably address your questions. www.centxdoulas.org
There is a doula training in San Antonio at the end of April. You can find contact info here: http://www.dona.org/workshops/
The hardest part about being a doula with small children is the childcare (especially when the care needs to start in the middle of the night). I became a doula when my children were a bit older and my husband was not usually on the road.
Someone said lactation consultants need to be nurses, and I'm not sure that is accurate. As someone else said, it is MUCH easier to have access to breastfeeding mothers if you are a hospital-based nurse. Texas Dept. of Health offers some breastfeeding courses for anyone, but they are typically weekday courses.
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A.G. answers from Houston on February 25, 2011
In order to become a lactation consultant you have to first become a nurse. You can become a breastfeeding consultant with a little less school, and the pay is less. I would contact the la leche league and and ask for references.
V.N. answers from Chicago on February 25, 2011
I don't know details about either profession aside from my brief encounters.
But I do have a lot of experience with an on-call job, similar to a doula. I did it and hated it. I would be on call nights and weekends. You can never have a plan, take a peaceful shower, or even not worry about finishing a meal. I did it before I had kids but now it would be impossible. Currently my on call work is during the day only once a month and I still despise that day. And I find my work rewarding but it still is inconvenience.
M.T. answers from New York on February 25, 2011
You don't actually need to be a nurse to be a lactation consultant, however, to sit for the IBCLC exam, you need a lot of hours working with breastfeeding moms and it's hard to get those hours if you are not a nurse.
If you want to become a doula, there are numerous certifying organizations. DONA is the best known and most reputable, I would go that route. Find out what doulas in your area charge and how many births a month they usually do. It is a big commitment. I was a childbirth educator for many years and a postpartum doula for a few years, but never a birth doula. I never wanted to make that time commitment - never wanted the phone call after 2 hours of sleep to drive to a job, or have to leave in the middle of my kid's school concert or birthday party (yes, doula's have to do that!) or miss Thanksgiving dinner. Usually doulas charge several hundred dollars per birth or even $1,000 in big cities.