YourDoulaBag blogs - Doulas, Childbirth, Labor and Birth YourDoulaBag


Role of a Doula – Helping Families Find Their Voice and Use It

In labor and birth, it is so important for families to express their preferences and get their questions out and answered.  This can be very difficult.  Some people completely forget their questions when a nurse or doctor walks into the room.  Others feel intimated by medical personnel.  Still others don’t want to cause any problems and therefore, keep quiet when they really want to speak.  One of the roles of a doula is to support a birthing family so that they can find their voice and use it.

A doulas role in labor

4 Ways in which a doula can help their clients find their voice and use it

1) Prenatal Preparation – Finding their Voice

Most doulas meet with their clients before labor one of more times to really determine how best they can help mom and her partner during labor and birth.  During these prenatal appointments, the topics that are often discussed include birthing preferences, fears and strategies for the big day.  This is a great time for mom and her partner to define their voice.  They can determine their top priorities and figure out how they can best communicate this information to their providers.  This is a great time to identify questions and topics that should really be discussed prior to labor.  During prenatal appointments, doulas can help point out questions that should be asked in the office prior to labor.  Mom and her partner can practice finding their voice during office visits with their care providers.

2) Prenatal Preparation – Role Play Scenarios

I believe the most effective way to prepare for communication during labor and birth is to use role play.  A doula can use her experience with supporting families in labor to set up a very realistic scenario for a communication challenge role play.  Mom and partner can talk through how they would use their voice in each situation and decide what would work best.  There might be some situations where the partner is better at leading the conversation and others where mom should take the lead.  Using role play is a wonderful way to work through possible uncomfortable and difficult situations and also help couples develop a nice working relationship with their doula.

3) Prompt a Conversation During Labor and Birth – the ‘Play Dumb’ technique

As a doula there are times when I need to remind my clients about their preferences or about a question that they want to ask.  The role of a doula is not to speak for their clients, but they can prompt their clients and assist them in starting a conversation.  I call this “playing dumb” and I find that it works very well. 


For example, my client might want to have a conversation with the OB on call during labor about their preferences for delayed cord clamping.  The OB might walk into the room and ask if they had any questions to which they reply “No”.  I know that they want to discuss the clamping issue so I could say “They want delayed cord clamping!” or I could use the ‘play dumb’ technique and say to my clients “What were you saying about delaying clamping?”  This question gently reminds them about the conversation that they wanted to have without actually speaking for them.  They could also choose to ignore the question if they change their mind or this will actually help them get that conversation started.   The ‘play dumb’ technique must be explained during the doula prenatal appointments so that they understand how it works.  It is important that clients know that the doula isn’t actually forgetting their preferences, but just reminding them.  From my experience, most partners love this technique.

4) Ask For Time

Many people ‘lose their voice’ when care providers are in the room.  They might actually forget what they want to say (or ask) or they might be uncomfortable expressing themselves.  A great technique to help in this situation is to ask for time alone.  Unless it is an emergency, care providers can usually spare 3-5 minutes for mom and her partner to speak alone.  During this alone time, mom and her partner can regroup and plan the questions they need to ask or develop a strategy for how they will communicate their preferences.  While a doula can help during this extra time, it is important that the birthing couple also knows that they can ask for the doula to leave as well. 

Growing a Doula Referral Network

The task of finding new clients can be quite daunting. There are so many ways to go about it.  You could create on a stunning website with top notch SEO, setup an ad in Facebook, distribute thousands of brochures to local OB offices or even hand out business cards to pregnant women you see in the aisle of the grocery store.  There are truly countless ways to get the word out about your doula services.  The strategy that I find most successful is growing a doula referral network.

Grow A Doula Referral Network

A doula referral network is a group of professionals that are willing to refer clients to you.  Creating this network takes a good amount of time and effort.  However, the resulting network can ultimately create a steady stream of client inquiries and hopefully a calendar booked solid.

Get the Step by Step Plan


 Every month, I see the power of a great referral source when I finish co-teaching a childbirth class.  In my role, I teach a breakout session to partners.  The primary teacher is a labor and delivery nurse at one of the hospitals where my clients often give birth.  I have developed a great relationship with this nurse which led to this co-teaching opportunity.  At the end of every childbirth class there are always several of the couples which approach me about my doula services.   The relationship with that one referral partner has become so strong that I could book myself solid some months just from her referrals alone!   Each of us has the power to create strong referral partners like that, but I believe that it takes a plan and a concerted effort.

Step by step plan

    • Schedule weekly time in your business to work on building this network. By dedicating your efforts on this goal you will achieve it.  Without taking the time it won’t happen.  I suggest choosing a day as your ‘growing your network’ I schedule mine for Wednesdays.   
    • Make a list of professionals to target. This list could include other doulas, childbirth educators, chiropractors, acupuncturists, midwives, OBs, prenatal yoga instructors, massage therapist, prenatal fitness educators and lactation educators and so on. 
    • Rank the list in order of easiest to most difficult. Your personal massage therapist might be the easiest while the OB group might be the most difficult.
  • Create a presentation.
  • Practice it until you feel comfortable with it. (this might be once or 25 times – however long it takes keep practicing until you feel comfortable)
  • Setup the in person or phone meeting.
  • Execute!
  • Act on any to-do items that resulted from the meeting. If you promised to do something as a result of the meeting, DO IT WELL and TIMELY.  Examples of this include: give business cards, do a presentation to their clients, send posters, send an email etc.  In other words, deliver an awesome product and really impress them.
  • Schedule regular check-ins with your partners. This could be a phone call, visit or even a meal together.  Don’t give them the opportunity to forget about you my losing touch.
  • Thank them! When your partner sends a referral your way thank them. You could send an email, send a handwritten thank you note or pop a Starbucks gift card in the mail.  This is a key step in the process.

    Get the Step by Step Plan
    August 19, 2015


    Doula Business ›

    The things that DOULAS say

    You are likely a doula if you say any of the following.

    1. I'll be there as long as I'm not at a birth
    2. What day is it today? I had a birth this week.
    3. Your baby knows when you to come.
    4. I support all kinds of birth
    5. That's a beautiful placenta
    6. Trust your body
    7. Your body was designed to give birth
    8. There really isn't anything you can do to put yourself into labor.
    9. Ultrasounds in the last few weeks of pregnancy can be inaccurate. 
    10. Your due date is an estimate
    11. I need coffee
    12. Stay limp and loose, like a rag doll
    13. Know your options for birth
    14. Your birth experience matters
    15. You will remember your birth for the rest of your life
    16. Let me help!
    17. Ride the contractions like a wave.
    18. You are strong
    19. Let me grab my balls
    20. I love my job!

    What would you add to the list?

    Like this list...Check out the Doula Elevator Speech 


    3 Reasons Honey sticks are a Doula Bag and Hospital Bag Necessity

    If you haven't tried a honey stick yet, you are missing out!  These little treats have been a secret snack for many doulas and I'd love to prove my case for why they are a hospital bag and doula bag necessity.

    Honey sticks are a doula bag necessity1) Honey is a liquid

    Sometimes a laboring mom is given a food restriction and limited to only liquids.  This practice is not evidence based, however is still common in many areas of the world.  Honeysticks are one snack that I think bridges the gap between food and liquid.  They feel more like a food, but technically are liquid.   They are a nice alternative to water, sports drink or broth that are often the only options when restricted to liquid.

    2) Honey sticks are SUPER SNACKS

    Honey sticks have all of the qualities that I look for in a perfect snack.  Depending upon where you purchase your honeysticks, they are 100% natural.  They usually contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  {we proudly carry high quality honey sticks!}  They have a great flavor without any odor.  Honey sticks also can be eaten discreetly, no crunching or loud package opening noises. {a peaceful birthing environment is key!}

    Honey sticks stay fresh for a LONG time. Most honey is fresh indefinitely! Occasionally it will start to crystalize.  Once the honey has crystalized it is still okay to eat. 

    Honey sticks are portable and easy to eat. Eating a honey stick might seem tricky, but once you know the technique it’s super easy. 


    3) Honey sticks provide a quick shot of energy for everyone

    The sugary sweetness provided by honey can be a quick shot of energy.  During labor the entire team (mom, partner and doula) can often use a quick pick me up!  Honeysticks are a perfect solution.  

    Do you pack honeysticks in your bag?  Have a honeystick story to share?  Please leave a comment and let us know how if you consider these to be a necessity for your hospital bag or doula bag. 

    Standing out in the Doula Profession

    I am not afraid to be noticed while walking into the hospital.  View full article →
    May 26, 2015


    Doula Bag Starter Pack

    If you are a doula then you have probably had a conversation about 'what is in your doula bag?'  Our company was created around the idea of providing items to fill this bag, but the truth is that a doula doesn't need a doula bag to do great work.  I've often heard doulas say that all they need is their 'heart and hands' for their work. 

     Doula Bag Starter Pack

    I would agree, however I also think that a few key items can make doula work easier and more fun too.  For this reason, we have put together a 'Starter Pack'.   This pack contains 9 items to get your doula bag and doula work off to a great start! 

     The pack is a mixture of tools for labor, snack for the laboring team, an item to show doula pride and tools for awesome client communication. 

    Below is a video with more information about each of the Starter Pack items and how to use them. 



    What are you favorite starter items for the doula bag?  Please let us know in the comments! 

    Looking to Purchase a Starter Pack?


    What is a Birth Doula? My Doula Elevator Speech

    When I jump in an elevator wearing my doula tshirt and another passenger asks "What is a doula?", it is time to bring out the "Doula Elevator Speech"  

    What is a doula? Doula Elevator SpeechBefore I perfected my 'doula elevator speech' this question often resulted in a very confusing jumble of descriptions that left the person who asked the question with a puzzled look on their face.  If I didn't start with an easy description that they could quickly understand I often lost them before I even got started.  They tuned me out and didn't get to hear about the most amazing profession that I am so passionate about!  I spent some time working on this speech and not have it down to a one-minute concise description highlighting what I feel is most important about my role as a birth doula.  

    I took some time and worked on this speech and now have it down to a one-minute concise description highlighting what I feel is most important about my role as a birth doula.  I don't try to convince the listener to use a doula.  My goal is to clearly explain the role and my job to the listener in under one minute. You can download the text of the speech here.


     What Is Included in My Doula Elevator Speech

    I wanted the speech to start with a comparison to something that most people understand.  I think this is a great way to begin and a quick win for me!  The listener gets an immediate picture of what I do.

    From there I expand with details about what a doula does and I give the details that I think are most important.  Doulas know that we do a lot, but I tried to use top level descriptions.  I then tried to cover the most common things that people ask.  This includes "Do you catch the baby?" and "Do you do medical procedures" and "Do you only work with moms that want to go natural?".  

    What Is Not Included in My Doula Elevator Speech

    I don't mention my training, experience or background in the speech.  While this information is important, I don't think it is needed to make my point.  This is the type of information that I would go over during an interview or when a am speaking to someone who is interested in my personal story.  I also don't mention anything about my personal opinions on tricky topics like birth choices, c-section, epidurals and circumcision. 

    What does your elevator speech include?

    I would love to hear about how you quickly describe your job as doula.  What do you include or omit?  Please share in the comments below. 

     Download my Doula Elevator Speech now

    Visitors At Your Birth? Infographic

    Deciding who will be at  your labor and birth can be a tricky decision.  As a doula, I have seen first hand how this decision can have a significant impact on labor and birth.  I have also seen many times how the lack of planning on this topic has created chaos, confusion and hurt feelings.  In 2013, I created the Labor/Birth Visitor test and have been using in with my own doula clients and childbirth education students.   Per the request of other birth professionals, I have created the 'Visitors At Your Birth? Infographic' seen below.

    This infographic is designed to get mothers-to-be and their partners thinking about the important decision.  It promotes the idea of creating a plan for visitors and communicating this plan with their support team.  There is no right answer to the question of whether or not to have visitors at your birth. We are merely suggesting that the decision be carefully considered and that women know that they have the right to say no to any visitor for any reason.  

    This infographic is available in a two page PDF file for anyone to purchase and download.  We encourage doulas and childbirth educators to purchase and print copies for their clients and students.  It is a great way to get this important conversation about visitors started.

    Get My Own Copy For My Clients


    Unboxing MamAmor's Birthing and Breastfeeding Doll

    MamAmor is the company “with those awesome birthing and breastfeeding dolls.  Yes, you probably have heard of this company or seen the dolls.  I heard about MamAmor a few year ago and saw the dolls up close and personal at a DONA conference, but hadn’t made a purchase…until now!

    I invested in a MamAmor birthing and breastfeeding classic doll! 

    Birthing and Breastfeeding DollI finally decided to make my purchase decision when I was looking for a good teaching tool for older children expecting a sibling.  I have a fetus/placenta/uterus model, but those seem a little too abstract for children.  I can just hear the questions with that model. "Where does the baby come out?"

    The MamAmor Birthing and Breastfeeding Doll is an excellent teaching tool for my collection and I would be remiss to not mention the beautiful quality!  Tulip (my doll's given name) is wearing a gorgeous hand knit cardigan sweater and matching shoes.  She has on a lovely sundress and is accessorized with a flower in her thick multicolored yarn hair.  Tulip's baby is outfitted in a soft flannel diaper and matching blanket (but is usually naked because of the importance of skin to skin).  


    I decided to create an unboxing video to share my excitement and thrill for finally making this purchase!  I hope you enjoy the video and get to really see a detailed look at this one of a kind birthing and breastfeeding doll. 

     What can you demonstrate with a birthing a breastfeeding doll?

    • Fetal positions: breech, posterior, anterior
    • Delayed Cord Clamping
    • Delivery of the placenta
    • Breastfeeding positions
    • Skin to Skin

    I can't wait to put this doll to good use.  In the meantime, my four kids are having fun with her.  The baby has been named Bartholomew and has been birthed countless times! The next purchase they would like me to make is a MamAmor Puppy! Yes, the puppy gives birth too. 

    What are your favorite teaching tools?  Please share in the comment section!

    Doula Business Chat #7 - Client Services





    IDoula Bag Client Servicesn this seventh edition of the Doula Business Chat (#doulabizchat) we discuss client services.  Many doulas offer services that are complementary to their doula services.  We discuss the different services that doulas are currently being offered, brainstorm on other possible complementary services and discuss how and why we would want to add to our current practice. 


    Advantages of adding additional services
    • Provide quality services to our clients
    • Increase the earning potential of each client interaction

    Most Common Complementary Services Offered

    • Childbirth Education
    • Lactation Consulting
    • Placenta Encapsulation (this one is the most talked about right now!)


    One of the doulas on video with me, Erin, brought up a great question. How does offering additional services have an impact on our Doula Code of Ethics? This is an excellent question!  Each of us must evaluate this process and make sure that we are working within our scope.  One thought that came from the chat box, was to create separate contracts for each of the services we offer.  I also think that we need to make sure that our clients are aware of our training and certifications for all services that we offer.

       Get Worksheet with 40 service ideas

    Services Discussed on Video with links to training

    What services do you offer?  Are there trainings that you recommend?  Please share in the comments! 

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