At Labor of Love we offer a true mentorship apprentice program. When someone has completed their initial training and want to venture out as a labor doula, often they “practice” what they have learned on the couple in labor. Those of us who did this, realized there is a better way! Once someone has completed their training weekend or online training, they can come to our group to be considered as a new addition only after they have apprenticed with a mentoriing doula. It depends on her level of comfort after a few births, but often we have them attend as many as 6 births before venturing out as a primary doula.
What does an apprentice do beforehand if they plan to attend a birth? We encourage them to attend a prenatal so they know how to conduct a prenatal on their own but also as a means of getting to know the couple prior to labor. She may ask some questions during the prenatal but her primary role is to listen and observe. The mentoring doula will then go over the prenatal questionaire with the apprentice afterwards to see if there are any additional questions or if anything needs clarification.
What does an apprentice do during the labor? She meets the couple with their primary doula once labor is established- whether at home or at the hospital. She is there to assist in any way that is needed. She may take photos and notes. She may help with rebozo and body comforting techniques- double hip squeeze, sifting, massage, etc. She may help keep the mom hydrated and nourished. She does most anything the primary doula does under the guidance of the primary doula. She is not to offer guidance outside of that direction since she is still learning from the primary doula. She is there as an extra pair of hands, an extra heart of love.
We usually have one apprentice at any given time. Here is our current apprentice at her first birth with Teresa. It was a fast homebirth. Consider an apprentice at your next birth. There is no extra charge to include her and for a long labor it is a huge benefit for sure.