The 5 Things to Consider Before You Doula

Posted on September 6th, 2017


photo credit to Toni Botas from Mountain Momma Collective

Thinking of becoming a doula?  Here are the top 5 things you should consider before taking the leap!

Ok, so you want to be a doula! This is great news because this career is rewarding and exciting and the world needs more doulas! And just like a doula gets their client ready for birth and those first few months with baby, we want to make sure that you are taken care of before you take the leap into being a doula. One of the awesome perks (among many others) of our Maternal Support Practitioner (MSP aka doula) Training here at bebo mia  is that our in-class component is 13 weeks long, so you have time to get your systems in place before you are launched and ready to start practicing.

1. Get your partner ready

If you do not have a partner, then you can skip this step and now there is one less thing to do on your to-do list! Note: you may have someone supporting you in your life like a sibling or parent that may carry some of the ‘partner’ roles, so they count in this partner discussion. What do you talk about with your partner? You need to make sure that you are both on the same page. When you are a doula, you are also an entrepreneur. This means you will be working on your business, as well as in your business. You will need to really lean on your partner or support person emotionally, physically and probably financially in the first couple years, so make sure they are up to the task.

Hint: when you have that conversation, make sure that you over-deliver the money needed, and under-deliver the results! Why, you ask? Well, this will ensure a really conservative guestimate of your needs in starting your business, and if the results are better than that, everyone wins!

Pro-tip: One of the bebo mia founders, Bianca Sprague, is obsessed with business and the relationship dynamic around this. Last year she wrote a blog about this that walks you through ‘the talk’.

2. Have little ones? Build your support systems first! 

You may have great support systems already, so skip to the next step, and if you do not, get this done! If you have preschool aged children and they are home with you, you need to make sure that you have a place that they could go during the day if you get called to a birth. You may have a neighbour that has offered, or family and friends that live nearby that can help you during the day if you need it. Your area may also have a drop-off centre which can solve child care issues in a pinch. Checking out what your options are ahead of time removes the stress of trying to find last minute care. We find many of our graduates with little ones start with working in the postnatal field where the work is more scheduled versus the on-call life of a birth doula. We talk about this in a Facebook Live here!

Pro Tip: Setting up a childcare swap with other entrepreneurial people in your community can be a “free” solution to create a win-win hands-free work time for all parents involved in the swap. Once you dive into the doula world you might find that other doulas are often your biggest support and best cheerleaders. Before the #bebobabes started bebo mia, they were solopreneurs with separate doula businesses and had very little family support, so they began supporting each other during sticky childcare situations and it worked great!

3. What about your other job?

If you are working out of the home currently, do you have flexibility to take a day off here and there if your client needs you during the day? If this is you, you have a really good setup to be working out of the home, and building your business! Eventually you can phase out your ‘other’ job, and until that point, you really get to have it all. If you are currently not working out of the home, or working part-time or contract work, you also have loads of flexibility AND time, so you can go peddle to the metal and get your business launched and thriving; plus with a bit of financial backing!

Pro Tip:  If you are currently working in a field that complements the needs of pregnant women/new moms/babies perfectly (RMT, Yoga Teacher, Chiro….) doula work is going to leverage you as a specialist and that is never a bad thing!

4. Is your bank account ready?

Good news! Being a doula does not require a lot of capital to start, and the advances in technology have made it cheaper than ever to start your own business. Luckily the biggest asset you have in your business will be you and your passion for doing this work. You will still need a bit of moula to get your name out there (think website and business postcards). It can be done on a shoestring budget (we started with a $25 investment for our phone line) and you want to be prepared. Undercapitalization is a leading cause of business failure. It can take longer than expected for you to draw a salary from a new business, so make sure that you have savings (or a reliable income stream from somewhere) so that you can live comfortably while you start and grow your business.

Pro Tip: Check if there are grants or bursaries in your city or region as there typically are funds available for women starting small businesses.

5. Check in with you!

Are you nurturing, giving, gentle and kind? These are some great traits you should have as a doula. Do you love babies and new parents? This may seem ridiculously obvious, however, we’re sure you have come across people who are clearly in the wrong field of work. What are the reasons you want to become a doula? Are these reasons enough to get you out of bed at 3am to head to a birth? Do these reasons benefit your potential clients? It is important that, as doulas, we are able to listen to and support our clients’ choices, whatever they may be, without dragging our own opinions into the mix.

Pro Tip: Setting up your community to debrief about your experiences as a doula is key and we support this completely with our doula training – you will have that community of cheerleaders and sounding-boards every step of the way… forever!

 

We hope we didn’t scare you off of doula work here. We really want you to be prepared before making that big decision. We are here to tell you: It can be fun & rewarding. It can be easy & successful. You can turn your passion into a career as soon as you are ready to take that leap and we will be here to guide you 100% of the way. We are always here if you want more information about what a doula does and how you can become a doula – it is important to us that you feel well-informed to make the best decision for YOU… just like a doula would 😉 If you would like to chat, contact us anytime!

13 Responses

  1. Jamie says:

    Being a doula is such a great service and awesome opportunity! I couldn’t commit to the hours with such little kids but maybe one day. You definitely gave me a lot to think about!

  2. Meghan says:

    Love this post and very informative of the job description

  3. Melissa says:

    I wish I had doula! When I had my two little ones, I was so ill-prepared and had no support. I love how there are so many support options to mums these days xx

  4. Marie says:

    This is a great checklist for those wanting to become a doula. I was on the fence of getting one when I had my son, and totally regret not getting one. Next time I’m definitely going through with it.

  5. Shell says:

    This a wonderful post for those thinking of becoming a doula .

  6. I availed a service of a doula when my first child was born. She helped so much since we hadn’t had any experiences in taking care of baby after the birth..

  7. Gio says:

    All of these are really important and great things to know and do before the start of the doula journey! Thank you for sharing !

  8. Marissa says:

    I often wonder how different my life could be if I had ran into Bebo Mia earlier on in my doula path. I wish I had known all these things before I started my business! I never had “the talk” with my partner, which has caused lots of problems. But with the awesome business support you guys provide I’m getting things straighten up little by little.

  9. Corina says:

    I think #1 is so so so important! Especially is your partner doesn’t know much about the birth world! Thanks for sharing

  10. I love this article, it’s very informative and even through I’ve already started my business there’s a lot of tips I can implement! The biggest concern for me when starting out wad my partner and if he was ready for me to start the “on call” life! I also love the idea of the childcare swap and an going to set out to do that!

  11. Jessica says:

    Great article. We are still working out my doula work life, as a family. Being on call when my partner has to out the door at 6am can be tricky. Building a great support system was key and finding people we trust who live close by and are willing to help out with the kids has been great. A childcare swap is also a great idea. Always love reading your posts, thank you!!

  12. Toni Botas says:

    These are SUCH important steps to consider before becoming a doula. Thank you so much bebo mia for diving into the nitty-gritty of birth work. I am of the mindset that a supportive partner that is able to fill in gaps and contribute to your family life while you navigate birth work is non-negotiable!

  13. Oh yes, this is SUCH good advice. Every day I am grateful for my partner’s support as I got my new business off the ground, not to mention his acceptance of being awakened at 3am when my phone goes off!

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