By Jodi Long
A doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and the norms of the childbearing months. A doula provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The use of doulas has risen dramatically across the United States as more data becomes public about the rising rates of unnecessary intervention in childbirth, the increasing rate of cesarean section delivery, and how a doula can help lower the rates of both. With so many choices when it comes to hiring a doula, how does one decide?
To meet the rise in popularity of the doula, many new doulas are being trained all across the nation. The last time I searched, there were more than 67 training organizations in business. However, many new doulas are discovering some of the drawbacks of our chosen career, including: long hours, no back up if they’re ill, and no support after a difficult birth. On top of that there is the additional responsibility of having to advertise, run a business, and build a reputation all on their own.
Enter the birth of the Doula Agency. Ann Arbor has a few of these new business models cropping up. The benefits of the doula agency are many and have provided answers to the questions and concerns of the independent doula. Agencies are often run by experienced doulas that take the hand of newer, less experienced doulas. They train and support them as they learn the ropes in the doula world. It’s like having a built-in mentor who can offer advice, guidance, and support in the difficult times. The agency may also be a great way for a new doula to get their feet wet without fully committing to the entrepreneurship involved in running a business.
The agency model often still gives the independent doula an opportunity to set their own schedule and the number of births they’d like to attend each month. However, it also allows for backup during long births, difficult births, or in case of illness or injury. In the agency model, doulas are typically paid per birth or paid a portion of each contract signed. Backups who are called in are often paid out of the agency’s funds or work with the original doula for a fair amount in return for standing in. This means that doulas who attend a birth that lasts a long time (which is normal, especially for first time moms) can tag team with another doula before she gets fatigued— potentially making a mistake or starting to fall asleep.
In addition, an agency is usually run by a doula(s) that has already built a reputation of reliability, trustworthiness, and a rapport with providers in local hospitals who know they will be supportive and not disruptive during a birth. The good reputation of the doula is the key to a long, fruitful business in the community!
The benefits to new moms who hire an agency include: less worry about having coverage during birth, having multiple doulas and multiple resources at her fingertips, and knowing that she is choosing doulas with a solid reputation. All Mom will need to do is focus on having the best possible outcome for her labor and birth. In 2019, a mom-to-be and her partner can search for "doulas’"online and find numerous agencies that offer services with a minimum of two and up to five doulas. This means less searching and fewer phone calls to make around town to find the perfect doula for your family.
Jodi Long is a Childbirth Educator, Birth and Postpartum Doula, and owner of Ann Arbor Doulas. She lives in Brighton, is a wife, and is amom to two girls and a Corgi named, Griffin. Visit Ann Arbor Doulas online at annarbordoulas.com or give them a call at 734-834-6751, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.