Ask A Doula: I don’t get called to births!

I am trying to get my birth business started and have been offering my doula services for free to try and get my certification births quickly. I have had three people (my sister, a neighbor and someone from my church) all say I can come to their births, but none of them actually called when they were in labor. It hurts when I see them announce on Facebook that the baby is here and I never got called. How can I make sure my clients call me when they’re in labor?
– Emily from Chicago

Time for a new approach! When you offer to attend for free, prospective doula clients see that you have valued your work at $0. And when you’ve valued it so low, it’s easier for them to feel like you are offering them a favor that they can either use or decline. They’ve done nothing to commit to having your services, and no commitment means they’re less likely to call.

I recommend a couple things:

1. Don’t spend time or energy trying to convince someone to have you there. Offer once, follow up, and then leave it.

2. Consider charging. Yes, even friends and family! Take the time to calculate what your full fee would be for a client, and offer a substantial discount if you choose to. Make sure that what you’re charging covers at the very least all of your direct expenses.

3. Collect payment before the birth. This way clients are (literally) invested in having you there.

4. Have your client sign a contract. Yes, even friends and family. ESPECIALLY friends and family! Tell them you need to practice good business skills as much as you need to practice labor support skills.

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