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!
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!
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