This month we are having a series of articles on ways that birth doulas can get their first few births and have some experience under their belt. In future installments, we’ll highlight other ways to do that, including volunteering, marketing and apprenticeship. If you are interested in being interviewed about how you got your first births, please contact me!
A common approach newer doulas take is to offer a discounted rate for certifying births. I spoke with a new doula in Albany NY, Elizabeth Leue Addeo, about how she is making this work for her business. Kaati’s said that she is charging for her certifying births, but ” far less then I will charge but I do feel I offer value even though I’m learning so much through working with these first clients.”
To set her pricing, she looked at local doulas with more experience in her area to gauge what’s an appropriate fee based on experience. She has benchmarks set in her mind on how to raise her prices (for example, when she finishes her certification, when she has 5 births, 10 births etc) She made sure to base her certification birth fees on covering her costs for child care for an average birth.
Elizabeth’s advice for doulas just starting out is “I think every doula should approach starting their business based on their own personality, pace, and prior experience. What worked for me won’t work for someone else but the best advice I can give is to simply just start. Jump in. It’s ok to be honest and say “hey you’re one of my first births, are ok with that?” You still have a ton to offer a client. And to let your personality shine. The people you attract when you put your true self out there are going to be the ones you have the best working relationship with.”
She had some tips for getting started without a marketing budget, too, since working at a discount doesn’t help cover those costs. She started an Instagram page, which is free and quick. She started her IG account with some photos of her doula training, and happened to give birth herself the next month so I posted some of her birth photos with my husband and doula working together. From there, She sought out some quotes that spoke to her and embodied her doula vibe. Shortly after that her first client reached out to her on IG.
She recommends taking multiple angles at the same time as starting an IG page. It shouldn’t be the only thing you do! Get a doula match page, sign up for other social media as well, and start networking with seasoned doulas and mamas in your community. Elizabeth believes you are more likely to get a birth through people you already know on Instagram and Facebook which may make you more comfortable with your limited experience.
Elizabeth Addeo can be reached through her Doula Match Profile or on Instagram as AfterglowAlbanyBirth.