Do you work as an independent doula or in a group? Is doula-work your business?

I am a newer doula, and I'm trying to learn from other doulas how they organize their doula business.

Is doula work something you do as your only source of income? Is it a part-time job? How much time do you devote to your prenatal and postpartum visits? Do you work alone or in a group? How do you manage having a back-up doula (i.e., do you pay her even if she is not needed?)? Do you belong to a community group of doulas for support? What kind of training or professional education do you participate in to stay current with the trends/statistics?


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I work mostly alone, but I do have friends who are doulas with whom I work with. Whether that be postpartum or birth, I will use a close birth doula friend as a back up or refer to her if I cannot take on the birth. As well as referring a pp doula to my client or to who ever asks for it. In regard to a group, I am part of a group that is not an agency, but a group of doulas with common thoughts about how doulas should work together and a group that is VERY in doula spirit.

Doula work is right now, not my ONLY source of income, but hopefully as my name and reputation picks up, will become my only income. It takes at least 2-3 years to get off the ground as a doula. So don't quit your day job yet. It can be scary when no one is calling or when all of your inquiries don't pan out.

Good luck to you! If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!
Wow, these are ALL great questions! Doula work is PART of my income, I also teach Childbirth Education, and parenting classes and I have a retail website. My pre and postpartum visits are about an hour to two hours, if they need more time I give it. I work alone-ish. I belong to CRN, here in Fresno, Ca. I have good friends that are also Doulas and we back each other up. I only pay Childbirth Resource Network them if they back me, haven't needed it yet. I go to Lamaze conferences, I'm going to a Midwifery conference in Monterey this year. I hope this helped.
I work for a social service agency as a full time doula. I had my training 4 years ago and worked when I could, along with being a massage therapist. When I became a receptionist after the massage business I was working for closed, I couldn't get doula work unless it was on a weekend. My employer tried to think of a way he could incorporate what I do into his business...orthopetic devices, to no avail. I was hired at first as a part time doula for this agency at a different location with a grant from the March of Dimes, 2 years went fast and I needed a job when the grant was over. I was picked up by another location by the same agency as a full time doula. I love the work being a doula but the administrative work for the funder can be a bit much at times. I work for an agency working with pregnant teens, 13 to 19 years old. Love what I do, teach (prenatal classes), am at the labor & birth (if called), and do home visitation for follow up. Agency work has it's up side and down side. Currently, I love having benefits (medical, dental, paid vacation etc), who knows what tomorrow will bring. Weigh your options and what is important to you.
Doula working for a social service agency...Rhona Moore
Rhona, I would love to do what you do! I have a social worker background and am finishing up my Doula training. Thank you for that information, I am going to look into it!!
What a great discussion Amy! I am still trying to get my doula business off the ground and I don't charge much because I work primarily with low-income and teenage mothers. I am alone but I have two doulas that we do backup for one another, we only pay each other if we actually do the birth. I am always trying to learn more and more about birth. I am a doctoral candidate in Infant Mental health and Learning Disorders and I always find myself reading research on birth and attachment when I should be reading for my classes. :) Hope this helps. It's definitely better to have a network of people you can call on!
I know I love the doula network we have here in town- it's really wonderful to learn from each other! I've always wondered, however, how doula groups organize the births that come in, distribute their fees, decide who attends which birth, etc.

Thanks for your replies!
Hi there

I am a doula (I prefer the term labour support), childbirth educator and lactation specialist. I work in the labour and newly postpartum field full-time and have for 11 years. I don't work with a "group" per se but have several doulas with whom I have a great relationship and so I know I can turn to them if I am in need of back up. I find these days I am calling on my back-up more and more often as I am busier and busier. I usually attend anywhere from 24 - 36 births a year as well as teaching for several of the midwifery clinics in the Toronto, Ontario area. I don't have back-up for my classes so I need back-up for my births.

I pay my back-up doulas an hourly fee when they cover a birth for me, up to a threshold of a fixed amount.

As for training or professional education, I am lucky to live in an urban area where there are always more classes to take. I am on a few email lists that keep me informed about what is available.
I'm a newer doula too. I created my business about a year ago after my son was born (also stay at home mom). I've been to several births, but have yet to need a back up doula.... because of any "overflow" lol. I would like for my Labor Support career to take off faster, but I'm slowly realizing that due to our country's economy freelance work will be more difficult to get off the ground. I'm sure it's just a time thing too, and anything worth having is worth fighting for. right?

So until then, I've decided to pick up a second part time as a social worker for a christian non-profit.

You'll be surprised with how much money it actually costs in starting a buisness. I know I am! I only did my first two births probono. Even after being compensated for doula services, the money that I've made has gone right back into things that are required for keeping it going. I will always be a servant at heart, and I think being a doula is a great ministry. But for now, for me, I think it's wise to carry a second part time job. At least until things start to flourish.

Hi amy !! you are going to love the doula business !!! its the most rewarding thing ever and nothing is better then seeing a baby being born !! this is whats been helpful with me .. hope this helps you ... I started a program called rooted for life - building a solid foundation to grow from.. I am complete body, mind and spirt support through out pre pregnancy, pregnancy , birth and postpartum time .. I help women mot only birth a healthy baby but as healthy and happy mother too .. using a combo of life / pregnancy coaching , healing, visualizations and breath work , body work , holistic remedies , restorative yoga, and doula work . so my healing /doula service is part of the package .. by the time we are at the birth there is a really deep connection and trust between us and i can with out any effort intuitively tune in and feel what they need. A great way to net work clients for me has been thru networking w doctors and midwifes , yoga teachers , trainers , nutritionists and so on. a big part of my business is referrals so we all help each other out . Also pregnant woman travel in groups .. i find that once i work with one they send me all their friends. Postpartum we still meet once a week thru the transition period for the first few weeks or months depending what they need and where they are at in the process. to stay current i am constantly reading books , devouring websites, talking with pregnant woman, new moms and people that are trying to conceive to see what's been helpful for them or what they need . i hope this helps a bit !!! Good luck with everything !!! lori



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