Leaving our comfort zone as new doulas ~ July Newsletter

leaving my comfort zone

Is it normal to feel nervous?

“I just finished training and took my exam last week. I already have someone interested in talking with me about my doula services. Is it normal to feel a little nervous? I have been out of the work game for about five years now. While I am excited to jump into this journey, I wanted to know if you had any advice?”

Of course it’s normal! As adults, we are used to feeling competent. It takes courage to get out of our comfort zone and do something new. No one feels comfortable on the first day of a new job. Here are a few tips that might help: 

  • Be your authentic self and don’t promise more than you can deliver. If you don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself—and don’t lead the client to as well—that should help dial down any performance anxiety.
  • Remember, your presence and energy are what matter most, not your level of experience or how many “tricks of the trade” you have mastered. Will you be a more experienced and resourceful doula 1 year, 2 years, 5 years down the road? If you stick with it, yes. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have precisely what a person/family needs right now.
  • If you are a person of faith, trust that you will attract the right teachers (your clients) at the right time.
  • Remember to put aside your own fears and doubts and focus on your client. Even though, from your perspective—a new career, first client = a big deal (and it is very much part of your story), ultimately, it’s not about you.
  • Connect with other doulas in your community and online so you don’t feel so alone. 

Medicaid Reimbursement for Doulas:
Overview, Considerations & Status Report

As the doula movement grows, the push for third-party reimbursement for doula services is picking up steam. Today, more than thirty states either cover or are pursuing Medicaid reimbursement for birth doula services to eligible families. It is clear this trend will continue, and I believe we will see a growing number of states and private insurers embrace the medical cost savings that doulas represent. Read our most recent article covering:

  • The five phases involved in implementing Medicaid coverage for doulas in a state
  • How doulas can stay current on efforts in their states and get involved
  • Variable requirements for participation in Medicaid reimbursement
  • Rates of reimbursement for birth doulas
  • Common challenges to implementation of Medicaid reimbursement
  • The blessings and pitfalls of this legislation
  • The status of licensing for doulas in the U.S. 

The Benefits of Self-Paced Online Learning

When I was providing in-person training for 20 years pre-covid, I was acutely aware of subjects I knew to be important but did not have time to cover given the time limitations of a weekend training. Once I transitioned to designing self-paced programs, that frustration happily disappeared. I could now include a few more topics such as safety tips for home visits, signs of an abusive relationship, options when someone cannot afford your services, and more. Each training webpage provides an opportunity to directly sample the course on our user-friendly online learning platform. Check it out for yourself. Online workshops and webinars continue to provide opportunities for interaction with other doulas. Best of both worlds!

Volunteer Opportunities for EOLDs

The following hospices have reached out to Lifespan Doulas hoping to recruit volunteers who have been trained as end-of-life doulas. No doubt, many of your local hospice agencies would also welcome your services. There are no rules that newly trained doulas should volunteer their services, but many folks welcome the opportunity to make connections and start engaging this work in their community as a means of building confidence in their role.

Providence Place in Minneapolis, MN
This is a unique opportunity to gain experience being with residents through the entirety of their end-of-life journey in a skilled nursing facility. EOLDs on staff provide mentoring. Jane Whitlock, jwhitlock@provplace.com

AccentCare Hospice & Palliative Care of Pennsylvania
Contact KelliTaney@Accentcare.com

Emmanuel Hospice, Grand Rapids, MI
Contact Holly Salas, EHvolunteer@emmanuelhospice.org

Favorite Resources for Birth & Postpartum Doulas 

Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta, The Labor Progress Handbook, 4th Edition. How to prevent and troubleshoot common challenges in labor (expensive but worth the investment). Great reference handbook to carry in your birth bag.

Lacta Learning, owned by Barbarra Robertson, IBCLC offers professional online interactive lactation education and book groups. It’s a great resource for anyone seeking more advanced breastfeeding support skills and credentials. 

Premier Birth Tools, owned by doula trainer Cheri Grant, offers training and resources for doulas and nurses using peanut balls and labor positions to reduce cesarean rates. Lots of great educational tools here!

Free Webinar! Comfort Massage Basics for EOL Doulas

July 19 (Wednesday 8-9pm EDT)
Comfort Massage Basics for End-of-Life Doulas
With Cindi Spence, author

palliative touch

Massage can offer moments of wellbeing, beauty, and connection at the end of life. Come join a discussion aimed at building confidence to incorporate gentle techniques used by massage therapists into your doula practice. Topics will include positioning and propping of clients in the home environment and guidelines for getting started.

Cindy Spence is the author of Palliative Touch: Massage for People at the End of Life. With her teaching partner, Susan Gee, Cindy teaches a three-day class for massage therapists and other professionals. She currently works at the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Dallas. Learn more about Cindy’s work at Final Touch Training.

Join Zoom Meeting / July 19 @8pm EST


Passcode: 729368 / Or call: 720-707-2699 (Meeting ID: 885 4734 8702)

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Patty Brennan

Patty is the owner and visionary force behind Lifespan Doulas. For 40+ years, she has been a doula, midwife, educator, author, nonprofit executive, and entrepreneur. Patty has personally trained over 3,000 people to become doulas. She is the author of The Doula Business Guide: How to Succeed as a Birth, Postpartum or End-of-Life Doula, 4th Edition, and accompanying Workbook.