Have you considered the partnership model for your business?
There are several reasons this type of business organization is great for doulas. Since we spend so much time on-call, a partnership offers lots of benefits:
- Reduced time on-call. Many doulas will split their on-call time. For example, one is on call from 3:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m., while the other is on call from 3:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This can be very helpful in various situations.
- A sole proprietor who also has young children would either need to hire a babysitter at the last minute (and what if no one is available?) or have a daycare provider who is willing to watch their children only when they are with a client. In a partnership with shared on-call time, you can be home with your kids during the day and be on call overnight when your partner is home.
- A doula who also holds another job may not be able to leave work in a moment’s notice, so what do they do if a birth client goes into labor? With shared on-call time, you can complete your shift at work and then relieve your doula partner and support the birth client during your time outside of your other job.
- Shared call prevents burnout. With splitting the on-call time, neither doula gets too burned out. One doula might be with the client for 12 hours, but then they switch. The client has continuous, professional support, but it doesn’t become too much for the doulas. Also, if multiple clients go into labor at the same time, the doulas are still able to support them both, usually without having to call the backup doula (though they should still have one).
- Take advantage of each others’ strengths. Different people have different talents, skills, and strengths. Partnerships can be great because the two doulas may bring expertise in differing areas that compliment each other, thus creating a business that runs smoothly. Perhaps one is great with keeping client files organized and accounting. This can be a great help if the other partner brings other skills like being a great childbirth educator and knows how to design a website.
- Life changes. Perhaps one doula gets married and will be away for a honeymoon – what happens to the business? In a partnership, it keeps running. Perhaps one doula’s child is ill – the other doula can ensure clients are supported as they should be.
- More clients. Most doulas who don’t use the partnership model typically limit their clients to two to four a month. Doulas in partnerships are able to take on more clients because they know they’ll be able to handle overlap with in-person labor support, whereas a single doula would have a tougher time.
Working as a doula team has lots of advantages, but you definitely need to find the right person to be your partner. Think about doulas you respect, have similar birth philosophies, are reliable and trustworthy, and maybe who have different strengths than you do. For more information about doula partnerships, consider taking part in Birth Beautifully’s Doula Mentoring program.
Christine Herrera helps people become amazing birth professionals.