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Doula Business Chat #4 - Staying Current

 Doula Business Chat

To stay current is to keep yourself up to date or informed on a particular topic.  Staying current in the field of childbirth is essential for doulas and childbirth professionals.  The concept of staying current could also include being informed on current trends for our customers, latest news and options for our local birth community and trends in the childbirth field.  Continuing education is also important for professionals that carry a certification as those usually need to be renewed on a regular basis.  

For the Doula Business Chat #4 we covered this topic and were thrilled to have Rebecca Dekker from Evidence Based Birth as our special guest.  Rebecca shares how the frustration surrounding current research being hidden behind a pay wall lead her to the creation of her site. 

 Ways to Stay Current

From in person events to childbirth journals, there are a variety of ways to stay current.  I have compiled a list (with links) below with my ideas along with those that came up in the chat.  If you have ideas to add please leave a comment on the blog. 

Reading Medical Research

Rebecca Dekker, shared a few ways to access research articles.  Research can be expensive and difficult to access and hard to sift through as well.  

Blogs

If you enjoy research, but find it hard to process you will probably love both of these blogs.  They take the research and present it in a way that makes it easy to understand. 

Attending Conferences

I love attending conferences and find them to be an excellent way to keep up to date.  While they can be expensive, the experience is so worth it.  Attendees are able to learn by attending sessions as well as learn by connecting with other attendees.

Continuing Education

There are so many continuing education opportunities I won't even try to list them all.  They range from in person events to online classes.  I have chosen a few that I have personally attended or were suggested on the chat.

Online

In person

 

Reading Journals

Birth Journals are another excellent resource.  Journal articles require a small investment of time but can be packed with good information.

Reading Books

Books have always been a staple of staying current.  There are so many wonderful books that I couldn't name them all.  Brief Coaching for Lasting Solutions (Norton Professional Books) was recommended by Michelle Beaulieu during our chat.  This sounds like a wonderful resource for sharpening our skills of interviewing and working with clients in their decision making process. 

Announcing our Book Club

I'm super excited to announce a Doula Business Chat Book Club!  The 1st Book Club Title is Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond   We will discuss this book at Doula Business Chat #6 scheduled for Tuesday February 24th, 2015 at 10pm ET. I would love to hear suggestions for future book clubs.  Please give your input in the comments of this blog. 

   

Networking with your local birth community

Staying current with local birthing practices is another way to keep our practice up to date.  In person networking events with your peer in your community is a wonderful way to do this.  Connecting with doulas over coffee or a meal and discussing the latest practice at local hospitals, options available to the community and more is really invaluable.  I have made it a goal for 2015 to do more networking in my community. 

We have put together lots of ideas for way to stay current in our field.  What ways do you enjoy?  Is there something we should add to our list?  Please submit a comment and give your input.  Let's learn from each other!

Doula Business Chat #3 - Life on Call

Doulas often will list the challenges of life on call as the primary reason for doula burnout or leaving the profession altogether. It is difficult to live a life on call, but being available for our clients is something that makes the doula role unique. Traditionally doulas did not practice in a group that shares call, but more and more doulas are finding that a shared call relationship is their preference. 

How is "on call" defined?

For many doulas, the on call period is between 1-2 weeks before and after a client's due date.  During this period the doula makes themselves available 24/7.  

 Limitations of an on call life include

  • Having to keep a cell phone always on and close by
  • Staying relatively close to home 
  • Limit drinking of alcohol (maybe one glass of wine, but usually no more!)
  • Getting enough sleep (no late nights)
  • No last minute travel (spontaneous trips aren't really possible)
  • Limit commitments (don't want people to count on you and then you aren't available)
  • Have a backup for your own life (need to have one of more people to fill your shoes)
  • Appointments are delayed in fear that you might miss them (putting off dentist, hair cuts etc.)

Strain on friends and family

Being on call can often put a strain on family and friends.  How many times can our village hear the words "As long as I'm not at a birth?" before it becomes an overused phrase?  This "up in the air" approach to life and not being able to give firm commitments can be difficult to deal with.  I know that my village of support gets tired of always making contingency plans.

Ideas on how to make on call life easier

1) Client Communication

I think a great place to start is my really sharing with our clients what being on call means.  Let them know that it means you won't be far from home or drinking a second glass of wine.  Make sure they know of pockets of time that you won't be available (example: long run, yoga class, child's school performance).  I think clients appreciate the honesty and like to know more about our lives and commitments.  Also, set the expectations with clients upfront.  Let them know realistically how quickly you can get to them.  

2) Respite Days/Nights 

Talk to your backup doula about taking a day off call. [view our Backup Doula Contract]  Schedule it on your calendar and do something for yourself on that day.  This might be an important family event, date night or special occasion.  Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you don't have a client in labor on this special day, schedule yourself to have a backup cover you and let your client know.   This is a concept that I plan on adding to my practice this year. 

3) Sharing Call

Working with another doula (or doulas) to share a call schedule is definitely an answer to making life on call more manageable.  This certainly makes things easier to schedule and takes away the uncertainty of work.  I see the negative aspect of this arrangement to be a client/doula relationship that more like an OB/midwife practice where the client gets whoever is on call for that day.  One could argue that clients can't guarantee her doula will be there, but there is more of a chance when call isn't shared. 

Doulas, what are your thoughts on this topic?  Am I missing anything?  Please post a comment and let's learn from each other!

 

January 06, 2015

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YourDoulaBag Wins of 2014

Top Blog Posts of 2014

BIRTH BALL FOR LABOR

 

5 MUST HAVES FOR THE DOULA BAG

5 PRIVATE CHILDBIRTH CLASS ESSENTIALS

LIMP AND LOOSE FOR LABOR

 

DOULA BUSINESS CHAT - 2015 PLANNING

HOW I PLAN FOR 2015

 New in 2014

#DoulaBizChat

At the end of 2014 we took advantage of Google Hangouts On Air to connect with other doulas.  This was super exciting and I must say a little scary to get started.  With any new technology there is a learning curve, but the first two chats went well.  We had doulas interacting on live with me on the Google Hangout and others asking questions and chatting in the chat box.  The #DoulaBizChats were recorded through YouTube and are both available to watch. Each is featured on a blog with the replay and notes.  For 2015 we plan to continue regular chats and have posted a calendar so that you plan to join in the fun.

Backup Doula Service Agreement

Also occurring at the 2014, we created and released the Backup Doula Service Agreement which is our first digital product available for purchase and immediate download.  This is a contract that a doula can edit and use in their business.  The purpose of having a backup doula service agreement is to get the relationship between doula and backup doula defined.  Both parties should be clear about their role and how the backup doula will be compensated.  We have had many requests for more digital products and are working on more for 2015.

What were your wins of 2014? Please share in the comments!

 

Doula Business Chat - Doula Backups

For  most doulas, securing a backup is one of the essential tasks in starting a doula business.  While calling in your backup is usually not a common occurrence, all doulas will eventually have a need for a backup.  Backups are called in for different reasons such as having two clients are in labor at once, a client with premature labor when the doula is unavailable and when the doula is sick or injured. 

Selecting a backup

Here are some things to consider when you are choosing a backup doula:
  • Skills / Experience / Training / Certification
    • Someone with similar qualities as you
    • Consider what qualities your clients think is important
    • Style
      • I look for someone who is a team player.  I need to know that my backup won't enter the birthing room and cause conflict with the healthcare providers. 
      • Representation of your brand
        • Your backup is a representation of you and your brand.  You have built your reputation and brand carefully.  Choose a doula who understands this and will represent you well.
        • Reliability
          • This is a very important quality.  You want to be sure that you can count on the backup answering the phone when you call...even it it is 3am.  
          • Personality
            • Is their personality matched for your clients? Can they easily step into a situation and be comfortable quickly?
            • Trustworthiness
              • Your client's care will be in the backups hands.  Does this feel good?  Do you trust them?  What does your intuition say?

              Paying A Backup

              Things to consider when determining payment include:

              • Will you pay your backup to meet your clients (or do a free phone call / google hangout)
              • Will you pay an hourly rate
              • Will you pay the backup just for being on call.  There are some doulas that just work as backups and generally charge a fee to be on call for other doulas.
              • Will you pay a flat fee?  Most doulas pay their backup a percentage of their fee if they attend a birth, but no payment if they are not needed.
              • If the backup attends a very long birth will an overtime or bonus payment be paid? 
              • Would you consider bartering? (trade babysitting or trade as their backup)

              Defining the Relationship

              Setting the terms of the backup relationship are critical and often skipped by many doulas.  It is important that the doula knows the time period for which they are on call.  The doula should confirm that they are available and ready for a call at any time of the day and night.  Do you know how soon will they return your call?  The payment terms should be clear and upfront as well.  

              The Backup Doula Contract

              For peace of mind and protection for your business I strongly recommend having a backup doula service agreement or contract.  The contract should define the relationship and payment details.  It will get you and your backup on the same page and make sure that there aren't any areas in question.  

              Our solution

              We have created a backup doula service agreement available for immediate purchase and download.  It has blanks that can be easily filled it to meet your business needs.  More information can be found here

              What are your experiences?

              Sharing experiences and knowledge helps us all.  Please submit a comment with your thoughts, challenges and ideas with doula backups.

              Doula Business Chat - 2015 Planning

              December 17, 2014 was our first Doula Business Chat.  We spent one hour through Google Hangouts On Air and chatted live with 8 doulas from around the US.  Our topic of discussion was business planning and goal setting for 2015.  

               

               

              For my doula business planning, I use and highly recommend this business planner.  If not this planner, I do think a planner that guides you through the planning and goal setting process can make this process so much easier. 

              My four MUSTS for successful planning and goal setting:

              • MUST schedule time to fill out the plan and try to FILL OUT THE PAGES
              • MUST schedule time each month to follow-up
              • MUST take an honest look at last year and not let it affect your motivation for this year
              • MUST be realistic, but give yourself an opportunity to dream too

              Doula planning comes with the following unique challenges

              • Schedule can be booked out 8ish months
              • Requests are often not steady. Tend to come in waves
              • Income often comes in months before work is done

              When looking back of the closing year it is important to look over your goals from that year.  

              Questions to consider include:

              • Were there any goals that were not achieved
              • Do any of these goals they need to be kept, reworked or thrown away?

              Personally, I have had the goal on my list to add Henna art to my services for the last 3 years. I have decided that this year I will throw this goal away. I don’t have the time. Other priorities come first.  I would rather spend my time focused on my most important goals.

              When looking forward to the new year it is important to consider the following questions:

              • What is your schedule currently like?
              • How many clients would be ideal?
              • Where are there holes in your months that you would like to fill?
              • Are there services that you would like to offer? Or services that you need to market more?

                 What are the absolute most important goals for the year? Your top 3 is where you should focus the majority of your time and effort. Please share one or more in the comment section!

                 

                 

                Childbirth Tips - Create a Magical Laboring Cave

                One of my all time favorite places for labor is the hospital bathroom. Say what??  Yes, it is the truth!  With a little transforming the hospital bathroom can be an awesome laboring location. 

                 

                How to transform a hospital bathroom starts with the lighting.  The hospital lights are so harsh that I recommend never turning them on. NEVER EVER EVER turn those lights on! As a doula, one of the first things that I do is to grab some battery operated candles from my doula bag.  I place three of these in the bathroom and they create enough ambient light for safety purposes and are so much better that the florescent overhead lights. 

                When mom is ready to spend more time laboring in the bathroom we can go ahead and add music.  If she is enjoying music for labor it is a great addition to the cave. She might be listening to a playlist or just streaming some ambient spa-like music.

                After the lighting and music are set the next super important step is to close (or crack open) the door.  This is so important to actually get that cave-like feel.  With the door closed or mostly closed she won't feel like she is being watched.  It is a comforting feeling for most moms.  Sometime moms even want to be left completely alone.  In that case we need to make sure that mom knows that her partner and doula are right outside the door.  If moms do want company in the cave we can pull in a stool for her partner/doula.  Don't forget, Mom also needs a beverage, preferably a cup with a straw.  

                The bathroom is a great place to labor whether it be in the tub, shower or the toilet!

                Get these tips sent to your inbox!

                 

                Women Entrepreneurs - Business Planning for 2015

                We all lead busy lives.  Sometimes we are so caught up in the day to day grind that we don't have time to look forward to the next year. As doulas we are often scheduling clients many months out, but are we scheduling work towards or business goals?

                It doesn't take an advanced degree to know that we need to take time to set goals for our business.  Without goals our biggest dreams for our businesses and lives won't be realized...or not in a timely manner for sure.  Taking time to set goals and follow-up on them is no easy task! 

                Back in 2013, I stumbled upon Leonie Dawson's business planning workbooks.  They immediately appealed to my creative spirit and really spoke to me.  I decided to give them a try!  I made the purchase, downloaded the file and uploaded it to Fedex where I had the workbook printed and bound.  I remember how excited I was when I picked it up.  I couldn't wait to have a moment alone to read it and start filling out the pages.  With four kids at home, a business to run and a million other things that were taking my attention this took awhile.  When I finally had time to dive into this workbook I WAS HOOKED!

                 

                Leonie's workbook is female focused and designed for the entrepreneur that has a business with a clear purpose. The pages lead you through the planning process with questions that are necessary to answer in order to make progress in your business.  Filling out the workbook takes time and energy.  It took me several sessions or quiet time and many cups of coffee.  It was SO worth it!  In 2013, I was able to lead a more organized effort to grow my business and this workbook was key to this success.

                Here we are at the cusp of 2015 and I just purchased the new version of the workbook!  I was actually bubbling with excitement when I got an email alerting me that it was out!  I purchased the ebook because I am trying to be more paperless, but I'm leaning to printing it out again.  There is just a wonderful satisfaction to scribbling, doodling and crossing things off.  

                Workbook for Women Enrepreneurs

                 I believe that this workbook is ideal for women entrepreneurs.  If you are looking for a planning resource I highly recommend that you take a look at this workbook.  Leonie also has other cool programs related to goal setting, blogging and getting the most out of your life.  In full disclosure, I am part of Leonie's referral network (meaning I make $ for all sales I refer).  I love the product and wouldn't suggest it if I didn't use it myself and believe that it will be helpful to my customers and blog readers. 

                If you decide to plan your year using this workbook, please let me know!  I am putting together a group so that we can all keep each other on track and make the most out of 2015!

                Leave a comment below and let me know what tools you recommend for business planning or if you also use Leonie's workbook.

                 

                Teaching Private Childbirth Class - 5 Essential Items

                Teaching Childbirth Class - 5 Essential Items
                Teaching private childbirth class is a wonderful way to connect on an intimate level with your clients.  I love being able to tailor my class to meet their particular needs.  While the content is basically the same, the delivery of the content will change when teaching a private class.  I love to use the white board and computer during my group classes, but have a completely different presentation method when teaching in my client's home.  

                The setting for most of my private classes is in my clients home, usually in a family room.  There is often a coffee table in the center of the room which is the perfect spot for a set of compact posters.  This set along with my demonstration baby/uterus/placenta/cord and pelvis models are my primary visual aids.  

                Along with teaching aids, I love to bring a gift for my clients.  My gift is a birth ball in a super cute cover.  We use this in class when talking about positions and mom can use it prenatally after class is over.  My clients really love their gifts!
                The final few items that I bring are items to make the class fun.  If you have watched the video above, check it out to see how these are used!

                 

                Would you like this list sent to your inbox? Click here

                What items are essentials in your private childbirth classes?  Click on the comment link to the left of the post and let us know!

                Doula Bag Items - Our Top 5 Must Haves

                Doula Bag - 5 Must Have Items

                After doula training is done, the doula bag seems to be the next project to tackle.  Your list of items will likely evolve as you get more experience.  Many doulas start out carrying a lot of items and then end up with a lean bag.  Sometime I even hear doulas say that they don't carry any tools in their bags but instead carry items just for themselves.  

                My bag has definitely changed through the years, but there are 5 items that I feel are my must haves.  

                 

                 

                What do you think are your doula bag must have items? I would love to find out! Please click on the 'comment' link on the side of the blog and share your knowledge.

                Also, we are happy to send you our list if you would like. Click here!  

                Peanut Ball Survey Results

                The Peanut Ball is the hottest tool for labor. At the recent Lamaze DONA Conference I think I heard that phrase uttered thousands of times.  At YourDoulaBag, we have been offering the ball for purchase for almost one full year and we were curious about how life with the peanut is going.  We created a quick survey and have some interesting results to share.

                Peanut Ball Survey Results - Do You Like your ball

                 

                Have you used your Peanut Ball yet?

                Peanut Ball Survey - Have you used your peanut ball yet?

                It's pretty clear that survey respondents are actually using their peanut balls.

                 

                If you have used your peanut ball, how do you like it?

                 

                Results here are a little mixed, but the majority (63%) either love it or like it.  Our comments on the question were interesting.  Emily Nolan not only selected "I love it", but went on to comment that it is "A lifesaver for moms who have epidurals or who have otherwise limited mobility."  Another respondent said "Even though the hospital had one too, neither the nurses or I knew how to use it properly. Harder than it looks!"

                Are you pleased with the size of your Peanut Ball?

                Peanut Ball Survey Results

                While the majority of respondents were pleased with the sized, we did have some conflicting comments.  One respondent said "I feel like I might enjoy also a bigger one" and another respondent said "I had to deflate it a bit to get a better fit".  I think the conclusion here is that moms aren't one size and the peanut ball (just like the birth ball) won't fit perfectly for all women.  

                Are you pleased with the Quality of your Peanut Ball?

                 

                As the retailer, we are so pleased with the answer to this question.  As a result we will continue to offer the Gymnic Brand balls

                Do you use a cover on your Peanut Ball?

                Covers on the Peanut seem to be popular and desired.  One respondent said "LOVE the cover" and Lou Ann Damsma answered "I use the cover to carry the ball and then sheets or hospital gowns to cover it in labor."   Our ball covers will fit the 65cm round balls and the 40cm peanut balls that we sell. 

                Why do you like having a Peanut Ball? 

                We received lots of answers to this question and have chosen a few to share.

                1) Sarah Wingrove said "Keeps moms' pelvises open when lying in bed with an epidural"

                2) Daine Zacharin said "More options to offer"

                3) Janis Spinak said "Allow ladies to use during class with position changes to see how pelvis opens"

                4) Emily Nolan said "Additionally, as a doula, there's often a feeling of frustration when an epidural is placed- in that it becomes much more difficult to help labor progress when mom is confined to the bed. I don't feel so helpless when I have the peanut ball, because I've seen it work its magic in aiding labor progress in more than a few women whose care providers suspected 'failure to progress'"

                Conclusions...Now what?

                Our goal is to provide the best tools that will make a difference in the lives of our customers.  It seems like our customers in the whole are pleased with their purchase of the peanut ball and are actually getting some good use out of it.  We have put together a blog with references to more information about the peanut, but the next step for us is to put together even more resources so that our customers will get the most out of this product.  

                 

                Here is where we would like to hear from you!  Please comment below with any questions that you have about the peanut ball.  We want to know what you are still wondering about this product.  

                 

                 

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