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Setting Your Doula Fees With Confidence 2

As a doula, the process of fee setting is one of the first challenges that we face.  New doulas are given a wide range of advice on this topic.  Some trainers recommend doing their first few births for free, others say charge enough to cover expenses and some even suggest charging the same as what seasoned doulas are charging.  The question is what is right?

Once a doula has experience the question of 'what to charge' never seems to go away.  It is a topic that gets a lot of mentions at doula conferences and doula networking events.  Do other professions have this struggle?  

I have created a fee setting method that will allow you to set your fee with confidence.  Join this free webinar on Sunday February 8th at 8PM ET.  While I won't give you a magic number, I will give you the tools to help you determine what is right for you. 

 Participants will discover:

  • How to research your current market
  • What to consider when setting your rate
  • How to talk about your rate with confidence

 The webinar will be recorded if you can't attend, but live participants will have the ability to ask questions and get real answers!

 

 

Doula Business Chat #4 - Staying Current 0

 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

Doula Business Chat #3 - Life on Call 0

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. 

doula life on call

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!

 

Doula Business Chat - Doula Backups 1

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 0

              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 0

                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!

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