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How to make money as a doula without attending births

husband and pregnant wife prepared for birth

There are many reasons why doulas may be unavailable to attend births but that doesn't mean we have to stop doing our doula work. Not being available to attend births at a certain time in our life also should not be a reason not to take doula training now. Doulas may be unavailable to attend births for a number of reasons such as having babies or small children at home, having a part time or full time job that doesn't allow for the flexibility of attending births, having our maximum number of on call clients for a given period, family obligations, lack of childcare, health or other issues that make it difficult to be on call or miss sleep, or doula burnout.

First off, I really believe in doulas learning and certifying in reflexology and Reiki in addition to their doula certification. That's why I left my role as a lead doula trainer for a conventional doula training organization to create the Holistic Reproductive Practitioner training program that includes Holistic Full Spectrum Doula training (fertility, birth, postpartum and loss), Reflexology training and Reiki 1 and 2 training in one comprehensive program. It's the way I've always worked - I have always been a doula who was also a reflexologist and Reiki practitioner and I attribute my entrepreneurial success to having those three complimentary modalities. I'm confident there are ways to doula without attending births successfully, but this certainly makes it a lot easier.

There are plenty of people who want someone to help them learn what they need to know to have an empowered and positive birth experience without having an additional person at their birth. Prenatal and postpartum support for the family that wishes not to have a doula present at the birth can look very different than prenatal and postpartum support when we will be there.

First, we spend more time preparing the primary support person for their role during the birth. Normally when I am working with clients with whom I will be attending their birth with them I usually schedule 2-3 prenatal visits. These in home appointments are used to get to know what the client's wishes are for their birth and why those things are important to them, it's a time for me to get really clear about what their vision is for their birth, it's also a time for me to identify any potential fears or blocks they may have that could affect their birth experience, I use this time to observe the dynamic between the woman and her support person (usually her partner) and how each of them sees the partner in their role at the birth. I also use these prenatal visits to educate them about their options for birth, information they may be interested in so they can make informed decisions as well as comfort measures and birth preparation.

Having only two or three prenatal visits is sufficient when I am the attending doula because it isn't necessary for clients to remember everything I teach them, it's not necessary for me to teach them everything they may need to know, because I will be there. As a birth attending doula we can review things as they come up in their birth. I can teach the partner comfort measures as the opportunities to offer them arise. I can help with holding space and emotional support because I am present.

However, if I am not attending a birth I prefer to offer more prenatal support. I love doula packages for my clients who are not going to be attending births because it can be an even more empowering experience for both of them and I can teach them skills that will not only benefit them in their birth but also in their relationship.

An example of a doula package that I will offer my clients who are not having a doula present at their birth might look like this:

4-5 in home prenatal visits (90-120 minutes each) x $125

3 in clinic reflexology + Reiki combo sessions x $140

2 in home postpartum reflexology + support visits (90-120 minutes each) x $125

Total package = $1295 with the option of having me on call for text or phone support or to attend for a few hours in certain situations if I am available for an additional fee.

Prenatal visit #1:

  • Getting acquainted

  • Understanding their vision, fears and desires

  • Getting to know them as a couple

  • Planning our future visits and priorities

  • Birth preparation in pregnancy - the benefits of prenatal chiropractic care, pelvic floor physio, hypnosis, suggested reading etc.

Prenatal visit #2:

  • Birth physiology and neurobiology - hormones, pelvis and pelvic floor, brainwave states

  • Creating and protecting the birth environment

  • Holding space and emotional support

  • Positions and movement

  • The partner's role - advocacy support, protector of the environment and her state, coach and informed consent

Prenatal visit #3:

  • Stages of labour, when to go to the hospital

  • Early labour support at home

  • Options and interventions - benefits, risks, alternatives

Prenatal visit #4:

  • Positions and movement for labour progress

  • Comfort measures practice

  • How to handle stalls in labour, exhaustion, "hitting the wall" etc.

Prenatal visit #5:

  • Fear release

  • Immediate postpartum - breastfeeding, nourishment and early priorities

  • Early postpartum - first days, what is normal, common concerns

  • Postpartum emotions and concerns

Postpartum visit #1:

  • Healing reflexology session - she can hold/feed the baby if needed or desired

  • Processing the birth and early postpartum experiences

  • Answering questions about newborns, feeding, sleeping etc.

  • Emotional support

  • Infant feeding support

Postpartum visit #2:

  • Healing reflexology session - she can hold/feed the baby if needed or desired

  • Ongoing emotional support for the family

  • May help with basic needs

  • Infant feeding support

Depending on our reasons for not being on call for the birth or not attending, it is also an option to offer virtual doula support for a fee. Doulas may consider taking calls or text messages during the birth to provide confirmation or help a family process their situation and navigate their options or may even offer birth support in small portions of time but not stay. Attending births as a doula can present additional challenges or may not be immediately an option depending on your stage of life or the stage of your own family. That however does not mean that one can not train as a doula and make a difference in your community. Learn more about Holistic Reproductive Practitioner training.


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