Every January, I experience a dramatic increase in aspiring doulas’ inquiries, requesting a 20-minute discovery session with me, and …registrations. As a result, every January, I feel called to inspire doulas to fulfill not only their passion but their professional success by claiming their thriving practice. As a doula trainer and coach, I’m committed to helping doulas elevate their status as a professional community and their individual financial and professional success.
These are my three points of inspiration for doulas as we welcome 2023:
Lead your clients to achieve the results they hired you for
Use strategies that empower both you and your clients
Establish a viable and successful practice by focusing primarily on verbal coaching prenatally and in the postpartum period.
As a doula trainer and leader of doulas’ communities on social media, I am convinced that the three most significant challenges to having your thriving doula practice are client enrollment, client engagement, and client empowerment. And if you’re open to adopting a new framework for birth support, I know I can help you achieve these three Es with ease. You can learn new strategies for Enrollment, Engagement, and Empowerment in my upcoming Three Keys to YOUR Thriving Birth Support Practice 2-day workshop.
Finding and enrolling clients so I can have a stable monthly income” was voted 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 as 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 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:
Client disadvantage: The abundance of short-term practitioners interferes with the continuity of care – one of the marks of high-quality care.
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 to help cultivate them.
Do you know your birth clients? Does your philosophy of care resonate with them? Do you employ the best strategies to support them? Rather than the optimal pathway to maternal care, Transformational Birth Coaching puts the birth client at the center of the support process. In doing so, we find that there is a generational gap that might be interrupting us in supporting millennials throughout pregnancy and birth. Halt! Take a deep breath…I’m not calling out on millennials. I raised two millennials myself and I love and admire them. I’m simply drawing attention to the generational gap between those who established the field of birth support – their attitudes, philosophy, lifestyle, and collective concepts of pregnancy and birth, and current birth givers. Can this generational gap mean that the philosophy, desired outcomes, and birth support strategies we practice do not resonate with current birth givers, or might not be a good fit? It might be the time to pivot.
Ever wondered why you’re super stressed when you commit to a birth client?
When I ask the community of Birth Coach Method’s doula students to elaborate on their stress level and its source, they usually begin talking about being on-call. I wholeheartedly agree that being on-call 24/7 when you are a career doula is super stressful. It’s been alsoreported by midwives that the unpredictability of childbirth – when will it begin and how will the process unfold, is one of the biggest hardships of the role. It keeps us on our toes – always having to arrange support for our families, always ready to cancel plans or miss family events. It’s messing up our vacations, and more.
Another source of stress that often emerges in our community meetings, or personal mentorship sessions, is our accountability for clients’ birth experiences. While medical caregivers are held accountable for the outcomes, we are held accountable for the quality of the birth process.
The psychological birth of a mother, similar to adolescence, involves hormonal and identity shifting.
Listen to my interview with Maureen McGrath where we discuss Matrescence January 24, 2021
Throughout this profound identity transition, an expectant individual undergoes an average of about 13 doctors’ appointments during pregnancy, 3 urine tests, 4-5 blood tests, 4 ultrasound tests, 2-3 vaginal exams/swabs, and 2 monitor exams. That is if they are healthy, give birth before or on their EDD, and do not need further diagnostic or screening exams. Then, they will go through the childbirth experience. An experience in which the transparent fabric of one’s routine is disturbed by pain, fear of death, and temporary loss of control. Their body expels a new human being while they are under the care of medical caregivers – most of them practice from an “expert” position. This abundance of encounters with medical maternal healthcare providers amplifies the neglect of expectant individuals’ emotional state and mindset during this profound transformation. Not even one behavioral assessment is routinely recommended for this individual. Instead of focusing on individuals’ well-being and mental health as they transition to parenthood and prepare for the profound transformation of childbirth, maternal caregivers and researchers tend to focus on how the baby is doing.
Just like prenatal coaching, transformational postpartum coaching shifts the focus from helping or informing to elevating new-parents’ performance level, self-confidence, and well-being.
Most of my writing has been dedicated to pregnancy and childbirth support. During the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges of new parents or parents who have expanded their family recently. I want to share how transformational coaching during the parents’ postpartum period can enhance their experience.
You can learn to empower expectant individuals to perceive their own mindset and desires as the most valuable ‘data’ their providers should focus on, by doing so yourself! Learn to provide transformational birth support coaching, and you’ll get to see them conducting themselves brilliantly and with confidence throughout their birth experience, and celebrate themselves.
Some of the most heartbreaking news that doulas received along with the outbreak of COVID-19 was that we are banned from hospitals. Many of us were already committed to couples and families that we have come to love and care for, and with the increased level of uncertainty and fear, we knew that our clients needed us even more. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to increase, it becomes clear that this crisis might last as long as a year or even more, raising a growing concern about doulas’ source of income. As upsetting and tormenting as this ban might be, the current crisis bears an opportunity; an opportunity to achieve work-life balance.
I am called to support my colleague and friend. How do I step up for her and make a difference?
I have been practicing as a doula for almost three years. I’ve also certified in the Birth Coach Method as a birth support coach and am extremely grateful for the training I received under Neri Choma. I love this role of supporting families. My main goal is for them to feel supported and loved as they welcome their baby to the world. I was a teacher for over ten years prior to launching my doula career, so planning and organizing was a big part of what I did. I like structure. As a doula, I try to structure my prenatal sessions. It helps me get to know the needs and goals of my clients in a systematic way and to understand how to support them and meet them where they are at. As part of my service, I also fill in any educational gaps as needed. I want to help them understand their options.
But what happens when I have a client who is a doula? How do I inform her? Do I just offer labor support and skip all my sessions with her? I usually offer each client three to four sessions. This client didn’t need to practice the tools of labor support with me since she is a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor. She also had taken a childbirth class with her partner. So I felt like the bulk of what I usually offer my clients was off the table.
I needed to go beyond informing and all the way to coaching.