Sintija Dutka is a certified doula and maternity coach. The word doula comes from Greek and means maidservant. Doula is thus an educated and experienced support person for the expecting family. Dutka has now been a light entrepreneur at Omapaja for approximately three years. Her customers are mostly expecting mothers.
“Doula customers are often those that have given birth before but there are also first-time mothers. Many hire a doula to get a better experience when giving birth for the second time. It is really surprising that many times rather little things help the mothers. For example, being heard is really important to the parents - and that their choices are respected. However, the work of a doula is different from that of a maternity coach.“
“Customers seek maternity coaching alone, with a partner or in a group. I organize group coaching as a maternity coach. Thus, I offer private maternity coaching and group coaching”, Dutka explains the roles in her work.
Sintija Dutka says that the work of a doula includes, for example, supporting the family in childbirth and practicing childbirth skills. According to the wishes of the family, she will also participate in the birth.
“As a doula, I support both the mother and the mother’s support person.”
“As a doula, I support both the mother and the mother’s support person. I support them both physically, mentally and informatively. I physically support the mother, for example, in various childbirth positions and by giving food and drink. I also introduce the mother different means of pain relief. We often also meet after giving birth. I help and advise customers on various issues, such as handling the baby and breastfeeding. Doula’s work is, in a way, preventive family work.”
Dutka says that she does not have an actual instruction manual in her work. There are so many types of customers. She works with everyone on a case-by-case basis and according to the wishes of the families.
“I have acquired my customers so far mainly through word of mouth, that is, my customers have told their friends about the service they received. They have also often given me feedback that the help of a doula has been a truly significant experience for them. I have sometimes been thanked later in the mall as well. It has been nice to get that kind of feedback.”
How to study as a doula?
There are a few doula trainers in Finland who certify doulas. Sintija Dutka studied to become a certified doula in Helsinki. Her activities started when support personnel were trained at the Lapland mother-and-child home and shelter. She later studied further and earned a certified doula qualification.
“I have worked as a doula alongside my day job and taking care of my own children. Rovaniemi City Personnel Services is the latest job I have had. I worked there as a network coordinator. When I started working as a doula in 2013, I had a three-year-old child myself. At the time, doula work was a new and strange thing here. That is why this work has also required a great deal of awareness-raising on the issue.”
Sintija Dutka studied to become a maternity dance instructor in Amsterdam. Today, however, she works as a doula in Rovaniemi. She provides services as a doula to anyone who comes to give birth at the Lapland Central Hospital.
In addition to light entrepreneurship, Dutka is currently studying emotional reflexology at the Kairon Institute, which represents body and emotional therapy expertise. Kairon Institute trainings are currently being held in Helsinki and Oulu.
“This education has high demands on contact teaching because it is such a multidimensional training. It takes into account, for example, the physical body, emotional dynamics and life cycle age, as well as emotional heritage.”
Light entrepreneurship is the best operating model right now
Initially, Sintija Dutka received information about invoicing services and light entrepreneurship from her own doula trainer. She heard about Omapaja from a colleague who lived in Oulu and worked as a light entrepreneur through Omapaja.
“I like the fact that Omapaja is a kind of local invoicing service for me, because it is a company based in northern Finland. When I had my third child, I had new enthusiasm to revive my role as a doula.”
Sintija Dutka has experience in several invoicing services. In the early days, she had some challenges in acting as a light entrepreneur. She could not deduct any direct costs related to her activities.
“I was a bit upset for that. I think part of the reason for this particular problem at the time was that the work of a doula was not known to that invoicing service and thus the costs associated with my work were not understood. However, I have not had this problem with Omapaja. I can deduct my direct work-related expenses so that I get them paid back as expenses. It may also be that I have now been able to boldly tell about my work, and awareness of doula's work has increased anyway.“
“I also like all the cooperation that Omapaja engages in with its customers to support their work.”
Sintija Dutka has liked the cooperation with Omapaja, for example, because the service is easy and quick.
“The user interface is really clear, and its implementation has gone smoothly. If I have had any problems related to light entrepreneurship, I have always had an immediate answer. I also have a good feeling that the attitude towards a light entrepreneur does not vary depending on what kind of income someone has. I also like all the cooperation that Omapaja engages in with its customers to support their work. I will be happy to say that this is a good option.”
Future as an independent entrepreneur
Sintija Dutka says that she has not yet had enough capacity in her activities to start fully as an entrepreneur. However, that is a dream for the future.
Sintija Dutka says that the work of a doula includes, for example, supporting the family in childbirth and practicing childbirth skills. Photo: Anni Tapio
“I am now in a kind of intermediate situation while I am still studying, so light entrepreneurship is a really good option at this point. As a light entrepreneur, I can learn more about entrepreneurship and grow my service offering at the same time. As soon as my studies progress enough, I will definitely dare to start fully as an entrepreneur.”
Doula’s job is a vocation for Sintija Dutka. Thus, she sees working as a full-time entrepreneur a natural option.
“I like to take care of babies, mothers and entire families. When I do that work, I see how the work of a doula helps people at the same time. I have also seen concretely how emotional reflexology helps, for example, colic babies. A valid and enlightening study has just been carried out on the subject.” You can read more about the study for example here.
Dutka has an idea that maybe within a year she could grow her business so that she could start her own business. She would like to take her services all around Lapland.
“Working as an entrepreneur, I am also better able to respond to the wishes of my customers in different situations.”
“Working as an entrepreneur, I am also better able to respond to the wishes of my customers in different situations. This job requires flexibility, and that is exactly what I like about it. And emotional reflexology provides so many more opportunities for additional services that it makes it a good package. Even geographical distances are not an obstacle to being a doula. It works well for customers even further afield. Doula meetings can be held, for example, via Skype or other remote connections.”
In order to be able to serve her customers as well as possible, Sintija Dutka also takes care of herself. She enjoys outdoor activities, swimming and emotional painting, for example.
“If you do not take care of yourself, your alertness will drop and you will not be able to listen to the customer with a sensitive enough ear. Even the training of a therapist requires that everyone also goes through their own process. Thus, I myself learn something new about the connection between body and mind every day. This is kind of continuous development and growth for me too.”