Death doulas. Divorce doulas. Abortion doulas. Doulas come in various stripes, says birth doula Amanda Bernstein.
All of them support people through transitions, but the task is often easier said than done.
"People think, 'I will be a doula. It will be awesome. I will go to births and support women. It will be lovely and beautiful and there will be flowers and all of that,'" says Bernstein. "But that is not the whole reality."
A doula is a non-medical companion who assists women and their families with emotional and physical support during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.
Bernstein, a certified birth and postnatal doula, says the women she supports often reach a point of self-doubt during birth.
At the last birth Bernstein attended, the mother wanted a "natural, drug-free birth" but had second thoughts as the birth unfolded.
"She said to me, 'I do not want to do this anymore. It hurts. I want an epidural. Get me an epidural.'"
Bernstein attends births with a bag stocked with a slew of supplies including affirmation cards, aromatherapy oils and drinking straws.
At the last birth she attended, the woman did not end up having an epidural.
"I had to coach her through her mindset, believing in herself that she could do it, focusing on one contraction at a time and not thinking about how long this labour is going to go for."
Bernstein graduated from the Australian Doula College in 2017. The college provides the only government-accredited training for birth and postnatal doulas in Australia.
Bernstein is taking part in the We Birth Doula Mentorship Program. The new program is for graduate doulas seeking to further develop business skills, learn from mentors and connect with a community of doulas.
According to Bernstein, the education opportunities for doulas are diverse. Some of the more niche courses focus on topics such as orgasmic birth, Shamanic midwifery and placenta encapsulation. But there is a vast range (mainstream and otherwise) of professional development for doulas to explore.
"There is always more to learn," says Bernstein. "I am continuing to do other courses all the time."
Bernstein also provides Pilates and massage therapy services, as part of her small business Essential Me.
One of the observations she has made in her first full year operating as a doula is that she spends a considerable amount of time working on the business - let alone in it.
She offers prospective clients a free coffee-and-meet-up and says she needs to spend substantial time getting to know them.
"I expected I would have to focus on ways to grow the business in my first year," says Bernstein. "But I have more optimism now. There are multiple streams of ways people find me."