The one thing I discovered when I decided to leave my full time job for doula work was that financially, being a doula is not enough. Being a doula requires being on call for weeks, the ability to respond to a families call at any hour of the day. Birth work is highly variable in nature. You can be at a birth for 4 hours and for 40 hours – making a livable wage as a birth doula can be a big challenge.
Even if we were to fully book our schedules, taking 2-3 births per month, or about 1 birth per 10 to 14 days. When all is said and done, that can amount to little more than a part-time income. For some that may be exactly what they want, for me I needed to find a way to maximize my income.
In order to do that, I had to be more than just a birth doula. In order to increase the chance of creating income, I diversified. The bottom line: to earn more money, you must offer more products or services.
This had offered me many benefits. It allowed me to take on less births, to create more of a structured schedule for myself. It also had me offering products and services that complimented my work as a doula. As a result it brought in more doula business. Clients would come to ask for one service (birth doula) and I had the opportunity to sell them on other products (placenta encapsulation, Childbirth Education Classes, or counselling). It also worked in reverse.
Diversifying however is more than just adding services or products to your website and business. It requires the same amount of hard work and hustle it takes become a great doula. Simply adding things to your preexisting business does not guarantee a cash flow. To get business growth through diversification you do not do more of the same; you do something different. You expand in new directions.
Before you begin to diversify here are some steps to consider:
Meet Taylor. A Doula Canada student and world traveller. She took a moment to answer some questions for us about her volunteer experience with St. Bryce Mission in Costa Rica.
What drove you to wanting to be a volunteer doula overseas?
I feel confident in my knowledge and ability to work as a doula for the common Canadian mother. But I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do more and be more. Working with this significantly marginalized, secluded, indigenous population of Costa Rica was attractive to me because the need for support was so high. I think I have grown in my skill set and my knowledge substantially!
Where did you go? What were your responsibilities?
I worked and lived at the Casa San Francisco located in the small town of Turrialba, Costa Rica. Casa San Francisco is a maternity Centre run by a missionary organizations called St Bryce. The centre works exclusively with the indigenous Cabecar women pre and post-natally. These native women live a very secluded lifestyle in the mountains and cloud forests. The hospital by law requires them to birth in a public hospital for their own safety. Before this centre existed when labour began the women would hike down the mountains for sometimes days to get to the hospitals. Many moms and babies wouldn't survive the harsh conditions if their travels. Other mothers would survive the trip to the hospital and would be sent away for not being dilated enough. Forcing them to wait on the streets until they could be accepted. This centre was built to give the moms a place to live at 8+ months and postpartum. They have reduced the mortality of the Indigenous babies by 40% in 5 short years.
My responsibilities included everything from cooking, cleaning, prenatal education, labour & birth Doula support, lactation education/support and any other gaps I could fill at the time. I took an extra initiative to help design and implement a laboring room out of a vacant space in the centre. Further, I developed better living conditions for volunteers and helped build an orientation package for doulas to come in the future. Therefore making their entrance to the centre more comfortable and smooth. I implemented positive activities for the mothers and younger children to participate in. Some of these included therapeutic art activities and self-care workshops. Because the centre had just opened and I was the first doula at the organization for a long period of time. My feedback and ideas were put into place with respect from others within the organization. I felt like I truly made a difference.
What did you find the most difficult?
Being completely immersed not only in Costa Rican culture, but a very secluded indigenous culture was hard to say in the least. The first week i felt complete culture shock. I'm a very high maintenance person, and I wanted to challenge myself....and i was. It was difficult to get used to the cold showers, simple food, traditions, values and most significantly, the languages. I found myself frustrated often at first with the language barrier. And even once I began to better understand and communicate with Spanish. The barrier with the Cabecar's was still immense. Their language is so unique. The woman in the Cabecar culture are soft spoken and of few words. But I persisted to support them and make myself comfortable. By the time I felt fully accepted and comfortable in the culture it was time to leave. I'll be back...but for longer than 3 weeks next time!
Kelly a student of Doula Canada and owner of Blossom Doula Services has a passion for supporting the labouring person. She wanted to share one of the many tools in her toolbox. Here is her take on using a traditional Mexican rebozo in labour and birth.
A Rebozo can be used between contractions during early labour, and early active labour.
While there are multiple different techniques used out there, some of the more common uses of a Rebozo during pregnancy and labour are listed below;
A doula could help you with some of these techniques, and it would be optimal to discuss the uses and even try them out before baby comes! When trying out a Rebozo for the first time you should always use caution and use your resources to learn how to preform the techniques properly and always be aware of how the mom is feeling throughout. After a few demonstrations it will be easy for you and your partner to catch on.
A Rebozo is a great option to help you relax during your pregnancy, labour, and delivery. As a Doula it is a great tool to add to your toolbox. Do your research, honour the tradition and find a tool that works for you.
In November of 2007 my Best friend gave birth at just 17, to a beautiful baby girl. I walked with her through her entire pregnancy and motherhood journey. It was a journey that no one is ready for at 16 years old, but as her best friend I stood by her and provided endless support while everyone else walked away. She was a single mother at 17 and together we raised this little girl for the first year of her life. Then her little brother came along and everything changed. Now there were 2!
In October of 2008 she gave birth to a precious little boy. Not only did I get to stick by her side and support her prenatally through this pregnancy, this was my first birth experience. It was the most amazing, crazy, scary moment of my life, at 17 years old that’s not usually what you think you’ll love to witness. I remember supporting her through the birth, not knowing a damn thing, but when she felt that she couldn’t do it any more and I was right there beside her giving her empowering words, some maybe a little blunt (lol), but I got to support her through that moment in her life, ME, her best friend. The rush I felt was unexplainable, I felt like a million bucks. We were closer than ever!
In October of 2014 she gave birth to her third child, another precious little boy. I remember the call like it was yesterday. Just after 10pm at night she called me to tell me she was in labour and out the door I went. Again as her best friend I supported her through her birth, giving her the empowering courage and support she needed to birth her son. Thus being the third time with her down this road together, I knew exactly what she needed from me. And once again this amazing rush of excitement, empowering energy and exhaustion rushed over me. Every moment was amazing; again watching her bring life into the world was priceless.
WHO knew that there was an actual word for this! Not just a word, but a career.
After this wonderful journey I never thought any more into it, other than knowing how much I love birth and babies. Then in June 2015 I found out I was pregnant and in August 2015 we found out we lost our baby, he/she stopped growing at about 7 weeks although I carried till 11 weeks. We were devastated at the loss of our baby but were so very blessed to become pregnant shortly after. October of 2015 we found out we were pregnant again! And in June 2016 I gave birth via Cesarean to a beautiful baby boy, Mason James. He was perfect in every way. But my birth experience was far from what I had planned. I was open going into my birth but did not expect at all what I actually went through. Having almost every medical intervention possible; my water broke due to super low amniotic fluid, induction because I wasn’t progressing on my own, an epidural because “I didn’t need to be a hero during my birth” and listening because I trusted my nurses, to a Cesarean birth because Mason’s heart rated dropped and he reacted to the Pitocin. All after 12 hours of labour.
I was so excited to have my little boy in my arms and being his mommy was the best feeling in the world, no matter what I experienced, so I told myself. And it was, but at the same time I had this hole inside me that felt sad and empty about my birth experience. This changed me and how I looked at life and so my life changing decision began as I searching for a way I could help women experience birth in a better way. Thus leading me to finding out what a “Doula” was!
WHAT I’ve been doing this since I was 16, blew my mind!
I instantly knew this is what I wanted to do. I had done it three times before and loved every moment of it! From 16 years old to now my passion for birth has only grown stronger. It just took 10 years for my true path to shine.
I loved my career as an ECE but after the birth of my son, it was time for a change. I was different; I knew I had grown and that growth lead me to find my inner passion for birth work. I felt so passionate about becoming a Doula and I knew I loved everything about it before I started, as I had done this so called “Doula” thing a few times before!
I started MyDoula journey training with Doula Training Canada and created my business, MyDoula+ Birth & Wellness Services in December 2016. Since then I have climbed my mountain quickly with the amazing support of the Doula Training Canada family of students and wonderful instructors and mentors I have around me.
I my friends am a Kick Ass Birth & Postpartum Doula with the DTC organization, a Lactation Educator and soon to be Reiki Practitioner, specializing in fertility, birth and postpartum treatments. I own my own Business and all my dreams have manifested into my reality. I love all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum! And supporting and empowering women and their families through the most intimate, amazing, scary experience in their life, on this journey we call parenthood, is what I do!
Please stay tuned for the next big step in the MyDoula+ journey! To be revealed soon!
Ashley is a mama to a handsome little boy, Mason and a wife to a wonderful man. She has an open outlook on life and love things that bring positive energy into our lives! Laughter is the best medicine.
She is an Early Childhood Educator; The owner of MyDoula+ where she is a Birth & Postpartum Doula; Lactation Educator and soon to be a certified Reiki Practitioner specializing in fertility, birth and postpartum energy work.
www.mydoulaashley.ca Facebook & Instagram @mydoulaashley
Doula services Serving Prince Edward County, Quinte West, Belleville, Northumberland and Lennox & Addington.
Two years ago, I was a new Massage Therapy graduate. Throughout my Registered Massage Therapy (RMT) schooling, I had always been interested in pregnancy and pediatrics. I thought I wanted to be a midwife- I loved the idea of helping women feel empowered bringing their infants into the world. I quickly realized how difficult midwifery school is to get into (in Ontario they only accept about 10% of applicants). I had recently heard of Doulas, and thought that becoming one would look good on my midwifery application.
About a week after hearing about Doulas I found myself applying for a position at a local maternity studio that was searching for an RMT to provide massage to six clients per week. I based my cover letter and resume off the fact that I was planning to be a Doula and would be a good fit for the company. Little did I realize that my interview was with Shaunacy, a then-instructor for the Healing Arts Learning Organization (HALO); a Doula training company. She quickly convinced me to take my certification through HALO. I had the lovely benefit of one-on-one training with Shaunacy. A couple months after beginning my certification, HALO became Doula Training Canada (DTC), with Shaunacy as director.
After going to a couple births, I realized that being a Doula was more fitting for me than a midwife. As a Doula, I can choose when and how often I want to be on-call. I appreciate that it allows me to easily run my business as a Massage Therapist and Doula simultaneously. I also appreciate that we are non-medical support. The only thing I feel responsible for is supporting the birthing person. I know that I am not responsible for the baby, an IV, a monitor, checking dilation, etc. and this frees me to focus all my attention on the person giving birth. I love that fact, and that it allows doulas and midwives to work harmoniously alongside one another.
Throughout my training with DTC I have experienced the lovely, close-knit community of students and alumni that offer true support to one and other as we navigate the profession. DTC incorporates Education Units as part of its certifying process which is wonderful because it places value on continued learning. Since becoming a doula, I have taken courses in the pelvic floor, pediatric massage, prenatal massage, advanced comfort measures, breastfeeding, business, water birth, birth trauma, belly casting, and henna belly blessings. I have also begun teaching Childbirth Education Classes, started my Childbirth Educator Certification through DTC. I plan to teach infant massage classes and prenatal massage classes in the Peterborough area this summer/spring. I am always interested in learning and growing within my profession and DTC provides me with avenues to do so- while working it into my certification.
I have learned that being a doula is the right fit for me and I am so appreciative that Doula Training Canada is the community that taught me that.
Interested in sharing your thoughts on the Doula Canada page?