A doula-in-training is not a thing.

March 22-28 is World Doula Week, and this week on the blog Doulas of Memphis is taking the World Doula Week Blog Challenge hosted by Louisville Area Doulas! Today, we’ve been challenged to address a common doula stereotype, and we've chosen the concept of a doula-in-training. We all have words or phrases that drive us crazy when we hear or see them. You know, like someone pronouncing the word mischievous “miss-chee-vee-ous” or not knowing the difference between its and it’s. As annoying as those are, there’s a word that I dislike much more, and that word is doula-in-training.


If you have made the foray into the world of Facebook Mommy Groups, chances are you have run across a post along the lines of:

“Does anybody know a doula-in-training who is looking for births or hours to finish her certification? We really want a doula this time because I’ve heard that they can help you during labor, but unfortunately it’s not in the budget right now. If you know anyone, please PM me. Thanks!”

Translation: This person wants the luxury and benefits that a doula provides for free or very low cost. All in the name of the doula being “in training.”  It would be easy to blame the consumer a situation like this, but honestly, they are doing their job as a consumer by seeking out the best value for their money.  The bigger problem here is that…

The idea of a doula-in-training is a common stereotype that is perpetuated by doulas who have educated the public that a doula-in-training is even a thing.  It is not a thing.  A trained doula is a doula. End of story.

Once a doula has completed a training, like the intensive training ProDoula offers,  she is no longer in training. She is a doula. Her time away from her family is not worth less than someone who has been working longer than she has. She deserves to be able to receive a fair wage for the time, energy, and care that she puts into each and every client.

Being a doula is not a hobby, or a megaphone for a set of ideals.  It is a career. It is not a “labor of love” or “heart work” in the sense that you cannot assign monetary value to it.  As doulas, we are able to continue to put our hearts, love, and passion into supporting clients only if we are able to sustain ourselves financially.

We cannot serve from empty vessels, and it is unrealistic to expect a doula to work for little or no  compensation for the sake of “gaining experience.” It is our job as doulas to educate the consumer about the value of a doula. Every time we further the idea that a “doula-in-training” is worth less than anyone else, we are teaching the consumer to value free and low cost over attunement, over service, over the very things in which we pride ourselves. Who does that benefit? NOBODY. The term doula-in-training needs to die and it needs to die yesterday.

You won’t find a doula-in-training at Doulas of Memphis. Here’s why.  

The label of doula-in-training exists in part to make a distinction between a doula who is certified and a doula who is not. Certification comes with its own set of benefits beyond the practical work that a doula does. Pursuing certification is important as it shows professionalism, follow-through, and dedication. Certification helps legitimize doulas in the eyes of medical professionals and the community as a whole. At Doulas of Memphis, we value certification. All of our doulas are working towards completing their certification through ProDoula, but we also believe that our doulas have value apart from the certification process. They are passionate about supporting you and your choices, and we stand behind the quality of every doula we work with. Doulas of Memphis works to build up, equip, and encourage our doulas so that they bring you their best every time you come into contact with them. Because of their training, they have been given the tools they need to support you through birth and early parenting. Because they are pursuing certification, they are committed to learning and growing. Your Doulas of Memphis doula has access to a support network of her own through ProDoula and through our agency.  She has been trained to attune to your needs and brings her own unique set of experiences and gifts to your birthplace or home. She is respectful, professional, and reliable.  She is not a “doula-in-training.” She is a doula…your doula.