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Doula Business Chat - Doula Backups

December 31, 2014

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.

              1 Response

              danielle rich
              danielle rich

              June 26, 2016

              Difference between a backup vs volunteer doula and shadow ? I think shadow they call this (apprentice) – Does the hired doula who is allowing another doula to shadow her – charge the shadowing doula ? How o explain to the client that the hired or contracted doula does not pay the shadowing doula &the client does not pay the shadowing doula and a shadow is there to learn and observe, (Nothing more) – should there be a place in your contract for all 3 -?

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