Our Operations Director spoke to our doula training instructor, Kate Dewey about her work as a doula, doula instructor, mom and business woman. Kate is a mom of five kids, a doula instructor with Birth Arts International and co-owner of Let It Be Birth Doula Services, she lives in the Seattle area with her family.
What attracted you to doula work?
So I was that weird kid that liked playing pregnancy and birth as a kid, I’ve always been interested in birth. My grandma was also a big influence on me, she was a labor and delivery nurse and I used to visit her at work. I began my career in nursing school, but when I had my first daughter I realized it was the comfort part of birth, both pregnancy and postpartum that I was interested in.
What was it about your birthing experience with your daughter that changed you mind?
I didn’t know what was a doula was before the pregnancy, [back in 2006]. My husband and I didn’t end up getting one as I thought he would be enough. When my birth stalled, the nurse was actually trained as a doula and helped me turn the baby and progress to have a vaginal birth. Her support and care inspired my doula work.
How long have you been a doula? How long have you been a doula instructor?
Doula for 9 years, an instructor for 1.
What inspired you to become a doula instructor?
Learning about Birth Arts International made me want to become an instructor. They approach doula work from a place that is both doula centered and birth centered. BAI teaches a strong heart connection to the work, but they also want their doulas to be financially successful. There was a trend in instruction to go either one way or the other, all about business or all about the work. I feel like there needs to be a balance and the BAI training does this very well. I was inspired to bring BAI to the Pacific Northwest where I live.
What is your teaching style like?
I would say my teaching style is humorous and educational. I like to have fun, if you’re not having fun you’re not absorbing the information. I love telling birth stories, sharing my experience and making a few jokes along the way. I feel it’s important to learn from my students as well, people come from all different backgrounds and have a lot to share. Doula work can be hard and having a sense of humor makes it easier.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from supporting birthing women?
Let it go. It sounds so Disney, but its true. There’s a lot of surrender you have to do because birth never goes as planned. You have to be prepared to accept those changes and curve balls in birth as well as in life. You have to let it go and trust that it will all work out in the end.
What makes Birth Arts International different from other certifying organizations? Why did you want to become a BAI instructor?
The BAI training is comprehensive and requires a lot out of its students. To be a good doula, you need a lot of training, so I think it’s good to have high expectations of future doulas. We require a lot of births, a lot of homework and activities and most importantly a lot of self-discovery. We also make sure doulas are prepared to start their business before they become certified.
What is the key to having a successful doula business?
You have to have the dedication to making this be your full time career. You have to be able to market yourself, have confidence in yourself and have confidence in the birth room. You have to have your life set up in a way that works for your business. A solid partner, a solid family support system and a dedication to birthing women will go a long way.
Why are you excited about the Doula Training with Shanti Uganda?
One of the things I try to teach my students is always to be open to new things and be open to opportunities to expand your knowledge. By teaching this training, I’m showing my students that I’m doing that too, I’m going to learn just as much as I am to teach. I’m excited to explore a new country, learn from Shanti Uganda’s incredible staff of midwives and find common ground through birth. It really is a universal language. I’m excited to teach aspiring doulas from all over the world.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to have a career as a doula?
The first birth I attended, I heard that siren call. I knew in that moment what I wanted to do with my life. I hear often from women who hear that call too and I always tell them if you’ve got that voice telling you to do this, don’t ignore it!
Attend our BAI Doula Training this September! For more info click here.