16 and called to be a midwife or doula

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Hi everyone. My name is Shawnna I am 16 and have wanted to become a midwife since I was about 8. I have contacted a doula in my area and she told me to look on the web for info... I am wondering if there is an age limit and if the training is hard. I kno it sounds weird that I am only 16 and want to become a doula but I believe it is my calling to help laboring mothers in need. If anyone has any info please tell me it would help greatly. Thanks soo much ~Shawnna~

-- Shawnna Askin (Glittrgurl15@aol.com), December 18, 2003


hi I am ashley that is so cool I am also 16 and feel that I am going to became a midwife later on and want to start the jounery as a doula. have you got any respones yet? maybe we can istantant messege some time if you want since we are trying for the same thing. my aol address is blueflowers788@netscape.net but i aol messanger. Ashley alaskagirl15@hotmail.com

-- ashley welch (alaskagirl15@hotmail.com), December 22, 2003.

I think it's great that you too want to become doulas and midwives! Shawnna, I actually wrote a long email to you last week but then accidentally deleted it and just couldn't make myself spend another half hour writing a new one, so I guess this will be short. :o)

Firstly, I would start by saying don't rush yourself. 16 is young, and while I don't doubt your determination or comitment, I think it will be very difficult to become a doula or apprentice at such a young age. Here in Oregon, there are several midwifery schools and they don't take students younger than 18. Also, I am doula-in- training/student midwife and am finding it difficult to find clients because of my age- 21. Most women are having babies in their late 20's and 30's, and prefer to have a doula who is older or more "experienced". Unfortunatly, youth lends itself to quite a few stereotypes. There is also the problem of being on call 24-7. At 16, it's very difficult to be available at all times for births. Also consider how being a midwife will affect your family if you are thinking of having children in the future. My husband stays home, so I'm able to have someone available at all times to watch my kids, but other midwives and doulas struggle with this.

Ok, now for the advice! :o) If you live in the U.S., I would firstly go to the NARM website and read it through. Becoming a midwife is a significant investment of time and money. Expect to spend 2-3 years at least as a apprentice. As you've already figured out, becoming a doula is a great way to gain experience to score an apprenticeship.

Take a look at the various doula organizations (Childbirth International, ALACE, CAPPA, DONA, etc.) and consider getting certified. Most doulas these days are certified, and it's tricky, (though not impossible) to get clients without a certificate. Most orgs charge around $350 for training and certification.

It would be a good idea to get certified in Adult and neonatal first aid and CPR. Take Anatomy and Physiology in college.

Read EVERYTHING you can about birth!!! I can't stress this enough. Books are your best friend. Once you really get into the birth field, you will notice a trail of books and resources- first the more common, then then more "underground" and important stuff that only midwives and doulas will have heard about. Read "What to Expect When Expecting"- not because it's a good book (it's terrible, actually) but to get an idea of the misinformation you are up against(ask me more about why I hate this book...I can give details)! Start off reading The Doula Advantage, Birthing from Within, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Spiritual Midwifery, the Birth Partner...ugh. Brain is getting fuzzy. I'll have to give you a much better reading list- there's so much it's important to read.

Some other important websites to check out include Midwifery Today, CIMS, MANA, and http://www.birthdiaries.com/diary/ (which is a terrific website with real birth pictures and stories. it will be good to see what you're in for!) Get in touch and I'll send you some more links. I've got too many to post here.

Last advice is the best- join some doula and midwifery email groups on yahoo. Pure networking is your best tool for learning.

Don't let anyone talk down to you! You're not a "newbie", you're not a "wannabe"...you're aspiring midwives. Take that to heart, and congrtulations to each of you on beginning your journey. If you need anything or just want to chat, email anytime.


-- Michelle Grant (alternaswiftee@hotmail.com), December 26, 2003.

Thanks for the info! i am taking the ALACE traning for a birth doula soon...plus i have already lined up a midwife to get the first few births from. could you send the info to me also that your sending shawnnaa? Shawnnaa and I have been talking alot and i have joined servral orgs that are about doulas or midwifes and that has been a real help. i am using doula as my starting point to became a midwife in two years i will being starting at some online midwifery school also. in the town i live in i thank that i may be able to get more clinits also. so that will help. i am also reading as many good birth books and doula books as i can get like special women and the brith partner by penny simkin. Well thanks so much for youe help! Ashley

-- Ashley Welch (alaskagirl15@htomail.com), December 27, 2003.

Hi. An idea that might give you some experience with childbirth from a different perspective. I am currently working on getting my 4 yr RN degree and am looking at pursuing midwifery. In the mean time I am working as a nurses aide in an OB unit in my hometown. This has given me tons of experiences with the birth process and the medical view of birth. This is something I started when I was 16. I know what youre going through with feeling too young. If you have any questions feel free to email me. ~Sarah

-- Sarah Loffswold (sglu82@aol.com), January 03, 2004.

I just wanted to say that I don't think it's weird at all that you want to be a doula at 16. My mentor's mentor caught her first baby when she was 15. You seem to be very clear about what you are interested in and what you want to do. I say go for it. Good luck. mia

-- mia birdsong (miabird2@hotmail.com), January 14, 2004.

Hi. This is Ashley again...I posted awhile ago about becoming a doula at 16...well i am doing ut i switched to DONA since they have a trainer in ak. I am spondering the workshop so I get to take it for free!! its in april I can't wait right now i am taking child birth classes and have volenteered at a local pregnancy crisis center which has turned out to be really cool. I am volenteering my services to teen mothers there. so right now i am just waiting for the training class since i have done all the other certification stuff. Well I just wanted to thank you guys you have really been alot of help. GB AshleyW

-- Ashley Welch (alaskagirl15@hotmail.com), February 12, 2004.

Hey everyone... I just wanted to update you and to thank you all for your advice. I just finished my training and all I need to do now is register with DONA and sit in on a childbirth class. Thanks again for all your wonderful help!

-- Shawnna Askin (Glittrgurl15@aol.com), March 31, 2004.

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