Making Birth Work your Real Job

doula care real job

***If you're interested full-time doula job, take a look at my post on doula jobs and taking the leap.

Be sure to read my Ever wonder what it takes to be a full-time doula or childbirth educator with birth work as your "real" job? While life on call is best managed when you don't have other work responsibilities, many birth professionals need to work part- or even full-time in another field to make ends meet. Births and childbirth classes are fit into evenings, weekends, flex hours, and those who are lucky have wonderfully supportive employers who are ok with them being on call during work hours.

Even with a flexible job, however, it is difficult to build a full-time practice when you are employed outside birth field.  Clients may be less likely to hire you due to concerns about your availability, and it is hard to find the time to focus on marketing and growing your practice.  I've seen countless doulas and childbirth educators living in that limbo land with one foot in their former job or profession, and another in the birth world, wishing they could feel confident financially to make the change to full-time employment in birth work.

Doula Job Example Case StudyIt is my great pleasure to introduce you to one childbirth educator and doula who is ready to take the leap.  Her name is Jenny Bennett, of Expecting Your Best Birth in Virginia.  Jenny is a birth doula and and teaches Hypnobabies Hypnosis for Childbirth, a full childbirth education course.   She lives with her husband, daughter (4), son (20 months), as well as their dog & backyard chickens.  The following is an interview with Jenny about the change from doing birth work on the side to making this her full-time job.

How did you first get started on this path?

I didn't initially see birth work as a potential full-time job.  My path began when I was working full-time for a cable TV network. After the births of my children, I was inspired to attend the Hypnobabies instructor training in April 2012. Teaching childbirth classes is possible to juggle with a full-time job because you work around other working people's schedules.

It wouldn't have been manageable of course without a very supportive and self-sufficient husband/dad! Pretty early on, I think it was my second class series, I began to yearn for an even deeper connection with these families, and that's when I knew I was getting the call to attend births as a doula.

How have you been able to balance your job, doula care and childbirth classes?

My first three clients' births happened during holidays and on weekends, so miraculously I was able to attend without much disruption. I also found myself in a slow period at work, so that gave me unexpected time in between meetings etc. to work on my birth professional web presence, to return phone calls etc... Once I consistently had two doula clients due in one month, instead of three clients spread out over the course of six months, I knew it was the right time to have the follow-up conversation with my boss about going part-time. I have more flexibility now to come and go as I need to, and there's a clear exit date to leave my job completely set for the end of 2013.

What criteria did you set for yourself to be able to leave your job?

My husband and I looked at the finances and have naturally had some anxiety about the change. But ultimately we agreed that there's a lot of potential to grow, and that any pay cut I do take will be made up for in happiness and fulfillment! My goal before quitting was to take on two doula clients per month and to keep two class series (one weeknight and one weekend) full. And I'm happy to say I'm almost there!

How did you know when it was time?

I prayed a lot. When I became absolutely consumed in the evenings after my kids went to bed with working on the business side of things, I knew something had to give - and it wasn't going to be birth work. There were a lot of little clues, I call them breadcrumbs, affirming and reassuring me that I was on the right path. And of course supporting those first few clients had me hooked. Over time I became more settled in knowing this was something I couldn't really avoid doing, even if I wanted to!  That's when you know it's more than just a temporary interest.

How does it feel?!

Amazing! It's never what I envisioned I would be doing in my life, but at the same time I can't imagine anything more fulfilling at this stage. I'm looking forward to watching it blossom even more.

I will be doing occasional profiles of my readers as part of this blog, sharing in your journeys, highlighting your lessons learned, unique marketing strategies, and accomplishments as a birth professional. Would you like your birth practice to be featured in a future The Website Doula blog post?  Click Here to Learn More.