After finishing a doula training, most people are very eager to get everything in place and start attending births. The oxytocin rush is real!
The first step after finishing your training really would be to spend some time working on building your brand and website and getting clear on your target market. This blog post doesn't cover the "how-to" on any of those things, so I urge you to sign up for a business class if you haven't already done so.
But assuming you have already gotten started on the business side of things, this is what I would like every new doula out there to know about getting started on birth work.
1. No one has the right to tell you how much to charge
There is a big divide in the birth world about money. You will run into tons of people telling you to charge more or charge less. You will run into people who expect you to work for free and you will run into people who think working for free should be forbidden. And you know what? None of those people opinions matter, because you are you.
It's true that as women or people who work as caretakers, a lot of times our work is undervalued by others and by ourselves. But for some people doing a few births for free helps them feel more confident.
It's also true that working for free is a privilege not everyone can afford. If you want to start charging a living wage for your first birth ever that's okay too. Either way, you need to remember the next point!
I can count with one hand how many births I attended in my first year in business. Sometimes it felt like I worked all the time in community building, blogging, website stuff, networking, newsletters, following all the recipes, but I was still seeing no results. I wanted to give up SO-MANY-TIMES.
Luckily my mom is my ultimate entrepreneur example. She has been running her own veterinarian hospital for over 20 years now. She told me no matter what the business is, you can expect for it takes years to build it. Her own mentor told her, when she was starting, that she would be lucky if she could buy a pack of gum with her earning of the first year.
I know that's not always true. There are lots of variables. I was a new doula and I was also brand new in town. There were not childhood friends telling their friends about me. My main advice on this aspect is: celebrate even your smaller victories, be patient, and keep working hard.
“Celebrate even your smaller victories, be patient, and keep working hard.”
I know I just told you no one should be telling you how much money to charge, but I do want you to know that burnout is incredibly common in the doula profession. Being on call is a very demanding lifestyle. You just never know when you might have to drop everything to go to a birth. When you first start, that thrill might be very exciting, but when it becomes your everyday life it really requires you to put systems in place so that you can keep a life-work balance.
When people hire a doula, they are paying for your knowledge and tools, but they are also paying for someone who truly has those systems in place to be fully available to them when they need support.
“When people hire a doula they are also paying for someone who truly has systems in place to be fully available to them when they need support.”
If you want to go to some births without getting paid, how much is that going to cost you and from where are those resources going to come? How often will you be able to take a free birth?
Also, make it sustainable emotionally by having a plan for when you come back from births. You might need to take a long bath, have a good meal and talk to a friend. You might need to sleep for 12 hours straight. Where is that support going to come from? And please don't tell me it's all going to come just from your partner, the partners of doulas burn out fast too!
So that's it for now. I hope you find this perspective useful. Again, do check out Bebo Mia's training, either their doula training or their business support options. I really think if I had not found them I would have been so lost. They helped me make my own map to build the business of my dreams.