Being a doula is a noble and fulfilling profession, providing invaluable support to expectant and new mothers mothers during one of the most transformative experiences of their lives. If you're passionate about birthing and postpartum care and have been contemplating starting your own doula business, you're in the right place. Here's a step-by-step guide to setting your enterprise in motion.
Step 1: Get Certified
Although doula certification isn't mandatory everywhere, it certainly adds credibility to your profile. There are various organizations, such as DONA International, CAPPA, International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), and Birth Arts International, that offer professional certification programs. Choose one that aligns with your values and learning style.
Step 2: Define Your Services
Doulas can offer a variety of services, from prenatal education and birth support to postpartum care. Decide what kind of services you will offer. Will you focus solely on birth support or include postpartum services? Will you offer lactation counseling or childbirth education classes? Defining your services early will help target your marketing efforts effectively. Here are several types of doula paths you can choose from,
- Birth Doulas (Labor Doulas): These doulas offer support during pregnancy and the birth process. They provide education, help create birth plans, offer comfort techniques during labor, and provide emotional support for the mother and her partner.
- Postpartum Doulas: These doulas support families after the baby's arrival. Their role can include providing education about infant care, breastfeeding support, help with household tasks, and offering emotional support to the new mother as she recovers from childbirth and adjusts to her new role.
- Antepartum Doulas: These doulas support women who have been placed on bed rest or who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. They can help with household tasks, provide emotional support, and help the mother navigate any challenges related to her high-risk status.
- End-of-Life Doulas (Death Doulas): These doulas provide support to individuals and families navigating terminal illness and death. They help create a comforting environment, assist with end-of-life planning, and provide emotional support.
- Bereavement Doulas (Loss Doulas): These doulas offer support to families experiencing pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death. They provide emotional support, resources, and help create memories and mementos for the grieving family.
- Sibling Doulas: These doulas specialize in assisting older siblings adjust to a new baby in the family. They use age-appropriate language and activities to help prepare children for the changes a new baby brings.
- Adoption Doulas or Surrogacy Doulas: These doulas support families who are growing through adoption or surrogacy. They can help everyone involved understand and navigate the emotional complexities of these situations.
Each type of doula serves a unique role in providing support, education, and resources to individuals and families during significant life events. Regardless of the type, all doulas aim to provide a calming presence and non-judgmental support.
Step 3: Create a Business Plan
A well-thought-out business plan can be the roadmap to your success. This should include a clear mission statement, a description of your services, market analysis, a marketing and sales strategy, and financial projections. Consider factors like your pricing structure, overhead costs, and growth strategies.
Step 4: Register Your Business
Research the legal requirements for setting up a business in your region. You'll need to register your business name, obtain necessary permits and licenses, and decide on a business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.). It may be worth consulting a business attorney or accountant to make sure you're meeting all legal obligations.
Step 5: Get Insured
Professional liability insurance is essential for any health-related business, including doulas. It protects you in case a client files a claim alleging that your services caused them harm. Research your options and choose a plan that fits your needs and budget. CM&F insurance offers good options for Doulas.
Step 6: Build a Website and Establish an Online Presence
A professional website is an excellent platform for potential clients to learn about your services, philosophy, and pricing. It's also beneficial to establish a strong presence on social media platforms where your potential clients are likely to be, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Step 7: Network
Reach out to childbirth educators, midwives, OB/GYNs, and maternity clinics to introduce your services. Attend local community events, pregnancy and birth workshops, and breastfeeding support groups to connect with potential clients. Networking is key to growing your doula business. You can also join a Doula agency or be come part of Marketplaces like Newmom.me, which offers you the opportunity to expand your business with full independence and control, while offering great tools to help run your business.
Step 8: Find the right tools to manage your business
Being a successful doula means more than just providing excellent support during labor and birth. It also involves running an efficient, client-centric business. Having the right tools can make running your doula business much smoother, allowing you to focus on what's truly important – providing exceptional care and support for your clients. Newmom.me offers some great educational tools, forms & sample contracts for Doulas to run and manage their business more effectively. Here are some crucial tools that can aid in managing and growing a successful doula business:
- Communication Tools: Clear communication is key in a doula-client relationship. Having a reliable phone and email setup, as well as proficiency in video communication tools like Zoom or Google Meet, can ensure seamless interaction with your clients.
- Scheduler/Calendar App: As a doula, your schedule can be unpredictable and busy. A reliable calendar app can help manage client appointments, prenatal visits, birth dates, and postpartum follow-ups. Tools like Google Calendar, Calendly, or Acuity can be very helpful.
- Website and Social Media: A professional website and active social media presence are crucial for marketing your services, sharing client testimonials, and providing valuable content. Tools like WordPress, Squarespace, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest can be useful in this regard.
- Client Management Software: A CRM (Client Relationship Management) system can help you keep track of client details, appointments, contracts, and other important information. Software like Newmom.me, Dubsado, HoneyBook, or Bento can be useful.
- Billing and Invoicing Tool: An easy-to-use invoicing system can help streamline your billing process and ensure you're paid on time. Tools like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Wave can assist in tracking invoices and payments.
- Digital Contract and Form Tools: These tools help create, send, and sign contracts and forms digitally. They save time, provide a better client experience, and are environmentally friendly. Tools like HelloSign or DocuSign are examples.
- Birth Bags: These are literally the physical tools of your trade. Birth bags contain items you'll use during a birth, such as a birth ball, rebozo scarf, massage tools, aromatherapy oils, etc.
Step 9: Continue Learning and Growing
Continual professional development is crucial in the birth work field. Keep yourself updated with the latest research and practices. Attend workshops, seminars, and doula conventions to continually grow and learn.
Starting your own doula business is a journey that requires passion, commitment, and resilience. While it might seem overwhelming at first, remember why you started – to support, empower, and guide mothers during their birthing journey. Keep this mission at the heart of all you do, and success will follow. Good luck!
At Newmom.me, we’re here to transform the motherhood narrative and make this process of finding support so much easier on you. We have a carefully curated, easy-to-use, and customizable platform where you can search by the type of service you need, location, and availability. You can easily sign up to review profiles of Lactation Consultants, Doulas, Mother’s helpers, and other services. Let us help you embrace motherhood with a full heart.