Iron Sharpens Iron
Since late 2009 I have had 90 inquiries about our apprentice program. To become an apprentice with Labor of Love it has usually been a difficult process. I don’t mean to make it difficult but I do ask that the women who inquire really count the cost of doula work to begin with. Do they have a great family network who understands the amount of time it takes to be a doula, to be gone all night often, to have disruptive schedules where being on call is the utmost important thing? Do they have great childcare? Do they know that the money is not guaranteed to be steady? If they pass that first hurdle of counting the cost, then they hear my expectations.
I demand a lot of the doulas who work with Labor of Love. I have to admit a few times along the way I have accepted women who I did not feel were going to be good fits for sure. It was times when I really needed to add a doula to our group and my decision to take them into the company was soon proven to not be the best for us as a group. This has made me a bit more cautious over time. But when I meet with a potential apprentice now I really drive it in hard that we are different than a referral service, we are a sisterhood of women who care about each other and work together for the best interest of the group and each other. This is really different than most groups.
Even though the women are independent contractors, there is a cohesiveness to our business model. We back each other up and do not act in a competitive way with each other. But that is not all that separates us. In our mentorship/apprenticeship process we demand a lot of the apprentices. We offer a true mentoring program where the apprentice accompanies the mentoring doula to prenatals, to births, to postnatals and is fully involved along the way in her training. We want the apprentice to read books we find significant- not only the ones required for their certification. We want them to sit in on a childbirth class series with parents so they can understand the questions and concerns pregnant families have. We want them to know about breastfeeding by attending our three hour couples’ class. We don’t just take a newly trained, inexperienced doula into our group without feeling very secure about her skill set and knowledge.
In the early months of taking births there are a lot of inquiries about the prenatal information gathered- is it complete? We are available via phone to chat or text with her when she is in labor with a mom. After the birth we talk a lot about what she learned and concerns she may have about the events of the birth. She is not just on her own. I feel iron does sharpen iron. And to the one who is given much, much will be expected. And we give a lot to our apprentices. Sometimes my doulas will say I am hard on them. But over time they understand why. They realize they have become an excellent doula who does things excellently.
We take great pride in the calibre of doula who is part of Labor of Love. We want the couple to know they were in good hands at their birth.