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To travel or not to travel and the importance of backup doulas

October 19, 2013

The importance of the Backup Doula

Ask any doula about the challenges of the job and she is sure to include "life on call" in her answer.  Being on call comes with so many challenges one of them includes the difficulty in traveling.

I'm writing this blog on the plane heading out to a much needed weekend away with some college girlfriends.  This trip has been planned for about 9 months, well before doula request for this time began.  Because I planned so far in advance I had the advantage of letting potential clients know that I would be away and am probably not the best for their due date.  I passed many interview requests along to my backup.

Then came the call from a repeat client.  Sure enough she was due during my trip! I love repeat clients and never want to turn one away.  My client said she would take the risk knowing that a backup would be available.  This arrangement in theory is good, but as the date of my trip gets closer and my client is still pregnant I start getting stressed about. Issuing her birth.  My client is stressed too.  The backup was an okay idea 6 months ago, but as the days get closer she lets me know that she hopes i'll be there.  Thankfully in this case my client gave birth just days before trip.  Yahoo!

There will be a time when we will miss a birth.  Whether it be due to two clients in labor at once, sickness or travel it is bound to happen to us all.  Because of this reality, it is vitally important for you to choose the right backup(s).  Your backup needs to be a good representative of your brand.  Send in a backup that isn't up to your standards and your reputation could be in jeopardy.  Make sure you and your backups have an agreement about payment, when they will meet your clients, how your clients will reach them.  The other important piece of this puzzle is how you communicate the period of backup.  Backup doulas need to know what period of time that they are on backup and for what clients.

Planning trips around doula work is so challenging, but I urge you not to give it up.  We can't put our lives on hold in order to be a doula.  We must setup good backup relationships and carry on.  Taking care of ourselves is very important. We need this in order to be at our best.

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