Convincing Prospective Clients that Doulas are as Valuable Now as Ever
Doulas face a challenge: after many years of service and hard work, our value is finally recognized, but now with COVID-19, we find ourselves cast out of hospitals.
It took us a very long time to get public recognition. Until not long ago, only a minority of expectant individuals knew what a doula is. I believe that it took too long for two main reasons:
- The refusal of the health care system to acknowledge the value of a doula, which makes it an out of pocket service, and quite an expensive one.
- The affiliation of doulas with natural or unmedicated childbirth; an experience that doesn’t really resonate with the majority of birth givers.
Doulas finally received recognition and then came COVID-19. Our challenge is to convince prospective clients to hire us during this time
In recent years we’ve changed the message and marketed doula services as birth support for every birth giver, regardless of their desired birth experience. Additionally, doulas marketing materials emphasize the statistics of their positive impact on the reduction of cesarean rates or other undesired interventions, and the increase in birth givers’ satisfaction levels. Lastly, doulas have added to their support a new skill: advocacy. Doulas claim to provide their clients with evidence-based information in order to empower the clients and allow them to ask questions, negotiate their options, and personalize the medical care for their needs and visions. So we finally are well-known and recognized by expectant couples, the general public, and even the medical institution. Except in times of a pandemic.
And then came the COVID-19 Challenge
The current situation of COVID-19 and doulas being globally cast out of Labor & Delivery is confusing for our potential clients; why should they hire a doula for their nearing birth if we can’t join them in L&D? As if it is not enough that we can’t be physically present for our clients and provide hands-on labor support, they also know how difficult it will be for us to advocate via an online platform, not knowing who else is present in the room.
Therefore, it is our current challenge to convince expectant individuals that we are as valuable as ever during COVID-19, even when the healthcare system doesn’t welcome us.
How to convince your future clients of the current value of your birth support
I will prenatally establish a strong foundation for you to rely on during your birth
In order to serve doulas in the best possible way, I will write this section of my blog post as if I’m discussing birth support with a potential client, let’s call her Jane.
Jane, while you are definitely correct by saying that I can’t physically join you in L&D at this time, and we both know these regulations change on a day-to-day basis, I want you to know that even according to the CDC, my support at this time is as valuable as it has always been in helping you to achieve your desired birth experience and have a positive and healthy birth experience. In addition to conducting the extensive and beneficial prenatal coaching process, I also offer three optional routes we can use for attendance and support during the birth:
Prenatal Support: Prior to COVID-19, most of the hours I spent with my clients were during the birth itself. Since COVID-19, I have been investing many more hours supporting my clients prenatally in order to establish a strong foundation for you to rely on during the birth. I will either use an online platform or we can meet in your backyard while wearing masks and follow social distancing. During this time, I provide bi-weekly check-in conversations in which I continue to inform, coach, and empower you and your partner. I will teach your partner how to support you verbally and physically, in the case that they will join you in the hospital. I will continuously practice breathing techniques, visualization, and relaxation. We will explore birth positions, finalize your birth plan, and explore your birth support options during childbirth.
As for the birth itself, there are three main options we can explore and I’ll help you and your partner to make the decision that is right for you. Nevertheless, these options are flexible and malleable in case you change your mind during the birth experience:
You can choose between virtual childbirth attendance, combined childbirth attendance, or a full hands-on childbirth attendance; these are malleable options.
- Virtual childbirth attendance: I’ll support you and your partner using an online platform from the beginning of your birth and all the way through bonding and first latching. I am prepared with a set of photos we can use in order to remind you of your positions, and I will use them in correlation with your progress. I will guide your partner on how to provide massage and have prepared videos for him to look at and watch with my guidance. If a consultation about the treatment plan is required, it can be done in the privacy of a phone call.
- Combined childbirth attendance: I will come to your home with the onset of labor and this will give me the time to support you and demonstrate the techniques to your partner. I will join you for the car ride to the hospital and will continue to support you. I will stay outside while your partner will be the one to enter L&D with you, and I’ll continue to support you via the online platform.
- Full hands-on childbirth attendance: If you chose to do so, I feel comfortable providing my usual birth support which means that I will be your main support figure while your partner will join us online. I respect his virtual presence as your main source of emotional support, while I will be providing physiological and informational support. We will include your partner in any decision making process regarding the treatment plan.
To learn more about providing prenatal coaching skills and how to establish a strong foundation of coping techniques and positive states that your clients can rely on during their childbirth experience, read about the Birth Support Coaching Course.