Oh my goodness. Doula training was amazing. Just amazing. 50 women, every one so passionate about birth, together for four intensive, wonderful days of education and training. There was just so much energy and joy in the room.
I'm going to compromise my anonymity here, because I think it could be valuable to others for me to say what class I took. So, it was at the Simkin Center at Bastyr University near Seattle, and one of the instructors was the legendary Penny Simkin. I know, how lucky am I, to live in this area and have that opportunity?
Demographics-wise, I was expecting the class to be fairly small - say, 20ish people; and I was expecting to be perhaps the only woman without children. I had the impression that many women get interested in birthwork after having a birth experience, so I expected it to be a crowd of mothers.
Instead, the class was a full 50 women! An unusually large group, I've since heard. The vast majority of the class was under the age of 35; there was even at least one high schooler, which I thought was neat. Slightly over half of the women did not have children. There were actually quite a lot of the early-to-mid-20s, childless women, like myself. I found that very reassuring. In a way, I'm glad that we had such a big class, because there was such a diversity of experiences. We had college students, we had a few ladies in their 50s, mothers and non-mothers; women who wanted to be doulas, women who were already doulas, women who wanted to be midwives; nurses, lactation consultants... oh, and quite a few pregnant ladies, too!
As far as the course material, it was quite comprehensive. There were some basic overviews of pregnancy, the stages of labor, complications, etc. - stuff that we were expected to know, but it was reviewed. Probably the most useful thing was our discussions and practice on how to be active listeners. That made me realize that I very rarely practice active listening. My main goal in a conversation is just to keep it going; I often want to hear information from the other person, but I want to give information from them, too. Sometimes I just want to hear or tell an entertaining story. The give and take is important. But in doula work, the doula's role as a conversation partner is much more as a listener, and much less as a teller, than in an everyday conversation.
Overall, I found the training to be incredibly inspiring and encouraging, as well as very informative and educational. It was a very supportive environment that gave me a lot of confidence that this is work that I can do. I am very lucky to be starting out in a region where doulas are very supportive and collaborative, not isolated and competitive as they can be in some other places.