3-Steps to Cultivating Long-Term Relationships with YOUR Birth Clients

Finding and enrolling clients so that I can have a stable monthly income” was voted as the #1 source of exhaustion. In a poll, I recently posted in The Aspiring and Thriving Doula FB group, 80% of the voters indicated client enrollment to be their professional struggle. I could have guessed that, since It has been my struggle in every capacity I have served, including a director of two birth resource centers.  Birth support has evolved as a field that consists of various short-term services provided by many different hands-on providers: Childbirth educators, birth doulas, postpartum doulas, breastfeeding consultants, and many others. From the point in time in which each of these professionals recruits a client, we serve them for a very short time – from 2 meetings to 3-4 months. 

The current situation has two main disadvantages:

  1. Client disadvantage: The abundance of short-term practitioners interferes with the continuity of care – one of the marks of high-quality care.
  2. Professional disadvantage: Having to constantly enroll clients, birth support pros are exposed to professional fatigue and face a potential income gap. 

Since long-term client relationships are the most crucial factor to growing any business, including your solo birth support practice, I’d like to suggest a business model that will help you cultivate them.

Birth support is a field that consists of various short-term hands-on services, in contrast to its purpose – continuity of care

Continuity of Care benefits our clients

Birth support has been divided into 3 main periods – prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum. This division negates one of the marks of high-quality healthcare – continuity of care. According to Christine Morton, a researcher in the field of maternal care practices and the author of Birth Ambassadors, the quest for continuity of care is the main reason for the emergence of the doula profession. This idea is echoed in  ACOG’s statement about the positive impact of doulas’ continuous emotional support on improved outcomes in childbirth. 

In light of the consensus about the value of continuity of care, one must ask why do we not extend our support to a period of 24 months. It would be beneficial to begin prenatally and continue throughout the whole childbearing process. This is the idea behind one of the most well-known sayings in our field:Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers… strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.( Barbara Katz Rothman)? 

The new business model consists of 3 simple steps that result in long-term relationships with our clients, as we become their transformational childbearing years coaches

Why do we provide short-term birth support services?

What currently dictates the short lifespan of birth support services are two main factors:

  1. We comply with a business model that did not evolve with awareness of our professional needs. Its focus is on serving birth clients’ needs. This model neglects the professional needs for sustainability and fiscal reward and assumes that the emotional reward associated with birth support is good enough. It is no one’s fault nor anyone’s responsibility. It’s just time to upscale and close the potential income gap!
  2. The short training programs teach restricted hands-on skill sets, neglecting the value of mental and emotional support provided by one defined professional who oversees the personal experience of the individual. ln other words, a narrow set of hands-on techniques restrict the professionals while upscaling one’s verbal skills will lead to a longer lifespan of the birth support process. 

3-steps forward!

The new business model I suggest consists of 3 simple steps that result in cultivating long-term relationships with our clients.  And there is no better motivation to follow those 3 steps than knowing that you’ll be providing continuity of care, right? These are the 3 steps that led me to cultivate long-term relationships with my clients: 

Step 1: Go verbal!

Upscale your verbal skills. In 2009, I enrolled in a year-long program to become a transformational coach and it has changed me and my practice dramatically. I train birth support professionals to become Transformational Birth Support Coaches. In the training, I help professionals gain impact, income, and satisfaction. I show them how to do exactly what I did to claim my success and optimize my clients’ experiences. My students learn how to utilize the trust and understanding gained when coaching prenatally to continue coaching during the postpartum period and even beyond. When you learn to coach, you can craft the coaching around your clients’ whole childbearing process. 

Use virtual technology to advance your practice and enhance your clients’ experience by recording evergreen content, sharing replays, recaps and serve birth clients anywhere on the globe

Step 2: Go virtual!

Many of us already have been forced to go virtual by the pandemic. But I’d like you to choose to go virtual by acknowledging the benefits of it. Your clients are already waiting for you in virtual space; Millenials live there! Additionally, virtual is greener – it will save the earth! It will save you the schlep time to clients’ homes and back to yours 🙂 And you can virtually coach individuals in far-away states and countries like many of my students. You can improve and advance your practice! Optimize your clients’ experience by using technology – record the sessions and share the replay to involve the clients’ birth partners and enhance the clients’ growing process. You can avoid professional fatigue and boredom, and save yourself time by recording your evergreen content – informational content that you repeat again and again. That’s exciting, right? You can create and share a video library. Most importantly- you can share sessions’ recaps to help your clients track their progress. Reflecting on clients’ progress is so important for their growing process and we should never forget to cheer for them! 

Step 3: Cultivate long-term client relationships and thrive!

There are unique challenges and dilemmas that individuals encounter throughout their childbearing years: Finding one’s truth and generating strong convictions, dealing with authoritative figures and self-advocacy, adopting positive motivation, overcoming fear of pain, failure, or loss of control, practicing self-care, communicating with one’s support group and asking for help and many others. Once you know how to use the coaching strategies and exercises around these challenges, you can establish long-term relationships with your clients and help them grow into the parent position. 

Implementing this new business model in your practice can be an excellent new year resolution for 2022.  Are you ready to advance your birth support practice and gain more income and impact? If the idea of becoming a transformational childbearing coach resonates with you, I invite you to schedule your Success Breakthrough session with me. Let’s explore if this pathway is aligned with your professional goals.

Neri Life-Choma

doula profession, postpartum coaching, prenatal

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