Can you balance doula work and a part time job? Is it possible to support yourself financially being a doula?
I have attended those long births and I have found one of the things that works is to really know when the mother is at in her labour. A lot of moms - myself included - get very excited when labour begins and tend to think that they have progressed farther than they have. At my last birth the mother started labouring early in the morning. When she called me, contractions were regular and strong, so I went over for a visit. It turned out that they slowed down so I went home and spent the night with my family. Her contractions continued through the night and I made my way over when she called me the next day. We then went to the hospital and she had the baby early the next morning.
I was lucky because she had other family members there to support her and I did not arrive until she was really in active labour. I found that that extra night's sleep really helped me to help her when the other family members needed to rest. I think it's important for us not to arrive to early and suffer from the burnout and to leave our families for longer than necessary. It's been hard and I have shown up WAY too early at some other births and been there for longer than was needed. By waiting until the woman is in active labour we save our energy and time away from our loved ones.
That said, sometimes we are the only labour support and sometimes women need us before active labour begins. In that case, I think it's okay to meet her before it's really going, and then go home again and come back later. My mom was totally fine with that and it ended up working out well for all involved - she had my reassurance that all was well, and the knowledge that I would be there for her when I was needed, and my family didn't lose me for and extra day and night.
I wasn't aware that you had the option to not certify. My doula stayed with me for 4 hours and when my labor slowed she left because she already had prior family plans. They called in the back up doula who was just as awesome and I loved her.