Here are the six biggest mistakes I’ve made as a doula - in no particular order. We learn and grow from our mistakes - I know I am a stronger business owner, person and doula because I learned soooo much from these.
1.Ignoring red flags when meeting potential clients. In the beginning, I took on clients who were not a good fit for me because I needed the money. This blew up in my face big time a few times before I learned my lesson. One example was a client who kept saying things to me like “I won’t need an epidural because I’ll have you there!” She ended up with an epidural and wanted half of her money back because of it. I didn’t refund her and she gave me a really hard time about it (she was actually pretty cruel to me). I made sure to put a clause in my contract stating a doula does not guarantee a medication free birth and discussing it with clients so I made sure they understood.
And remember, if anyone ever makes you feel horrible for a mistake you have made, it is about them, not you. The clients, colleagues and friends/family who berate you for an honest mistake are the people who have the hardest times with their own personal failures - they are taking it out on you. When a person is healthy in their relationship to their emotions, they will be kind and respectful towards you, even when they are expressing anger or frustration with your actions.
2. Not having enough confidence in myself. The first couple years of my practice I kept thinking I needed more trainings, certifications and education to be a great doula instead of focusing on the training I already had. I realize now that I wanted to do all those trainings because I was scared to embrace myself as a professional.
3. Not taking care of myself properly before, during and after births. Not eating and drinking enough was a HUGE learning curve for me! I felt hungover for days after long births at first - and I am embarrassed to admit it took me several births to learn my lesson!
4. Not speaking up for clients when I saw abuse by care providers. And being hard on myself for things happening at births that were out of my control.
5. Not setting boundaries around my time with clients - for a long time. It took me forever to put all the boundaries that I needed in my contract and effectively communicate them to clients. I could not (and shouldn't be) available 24/7 for non-urgent matters. Things like getting a text at 10pm about rescheduling our prenatal next week was burning me out. I put in my contract that non-urgent calls and texts would only be accepted 9-5pm M-F.
6. Getting super frustrated when I wasn’t getting a full load of clients right away after I finished certification. In reality, it can take up to two years to fill up your schedule!