Beth Hardy, SCMT, MT-BC
Moving to a new place can be exciting, fun, and a little daunting. Learning the area, meeting people, getting started with a new job – these all take time and energy and can sometimes feel pretty difficult. Moving to a new place AND starting out as a new doula can be doubly exciting, and doubly scary!
I had been living in California and dabbling in doula work for the past 8 years before moving to Salt Lake City in May 2015. I had taken several doula trainings and attended two births, but I was working a full-time job and never felt like I had the time to really dedicate to building a business and attending births.
When the opportunity came up to move to Utah I jumped at the chance, and saw this as my opportunity to really dive into the world of doula work. My husband would be working full-time, and I felt like I finally had the time and flexibility to pursue my passion of becoming a doula.
It has taken me several months to really get connected to the doula community here, and I still haven’t met most of the local doulas face to face. But I have taken many steps to get plugged in, and I wanted to share some of them with you today.
1. Don’t be shy – Whenever I meet another doula, I always introduce myself and get to know her a bit. Being shy in the doula world means that other birth workers, pregnant moms, and potential clients wouldn’t really get to know me. I can’t wait for people to reach out to me, I have to make it my job to reach out to them! During my first month in Salt Lake City, I was attending the Pride Festival and I happened to notice the booth of a local doula. I walked right up and introduced myself to her, and she told me the best people to reach out to, the organizations to join, and the Facebook pages to like. This helped me so much! I joined the Utah Doula Association that night, posted on their Facebook page that I was new to the area, and immediately began to meet other doulas.
2. Tell everyone you meet what you do – Often when I people meet for the first time, one of the first topics of conversation revolves around what we each do for a living. I never hesitate to excitedly say that I’m a doula, and I specialize in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. This usually gets a puzzled look, and the person I’m talking to wants to know more about what all that means. I go on to tell them that I help pregnant moms and their partners to have an educated, empowered birth, and I also help them to incorporate music into their birth. People are often fascinated by this job that they’ve usually not heard of before. Even if this conversation doesn’t lead to me getting a new client, it is always a good opportunity to practice my elevator pitch and become comfortable with promoting my services.
3. Never stop taking trainings – I am continually expanding my education and knowledge in the field of birth work. Taking local trainings is one of the best ways I’ve found to not only gain new skills, but also to get to know other doulas.
4. Build your network outside of other doulas – Building a referral network of other professionals who work in the birth world, but who are not doulas, can really help you get connected and get clients. Just think of the people you interact with regularly (your doctor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, yoga studio, health food store, library) and start talking with them about what you do and how your services can benefit their clients. I started going to an acupuncturist here in Salt Lake City and casually mentioned that I’m a doula during one of our sessions. She specializes in acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy, so she was really interested in what I do. She referred me to a local birth worker meetup group that meets quarterly, where I met massage therapists, counselors, and other birth professionals. This group of birth workers is now part of my referral network. People are much more likely to refer to you if they’ve met you in person and know you a bit.
5. Present, present, present! – One of the best ways to get the word out about what you do is to give presentations. Present to your local doula association, at birth centers, local moms groups, baby stores, anywhere birth workers and/or pregnant moms hang out! Offer to give a short, 15-minute presentation on a topic that you specialize in (for me, that is Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth), or just present on doula work in general and how having a doula can help moms during their birth.
I hope these suggestions are helpful for you, whether you’re new to the area or just a new doula trying hard to build your network and get clients. It isn’t easy, it takes time, but persistence and optimism are key! Just keep doing the next right thing in the direction you want to go. Cheers!
Beth Hardy, SCMT, MT-BC is a board certified music therapist, birth doula, and postpartum doula serving Salt Lake City, UT. She specializes in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. You can learn more about Beth at www.HeartTonesDoula.com.