How to Find the Right Backup Doula
Two black women sitting down on the couch having an interview in a conversation

As a doula, you know the importance of being present for your clients during one of the most significant times of their lives. But what happens when you have a scheduling conflict, fall ill, or need a well-deserved break? This is where a backup doula steps in—ensuring your clients continue to receive the support they need, exactly when they need it. Finding the right backup doula can feel daunting, so here are key points to consider to make the process smoother and more effective:

Understand Your Needs and Expectations

  • Identify Your Non-Negotiables: What are the qualities and qualifications that are most important to you? Consider factors like training, experience, philosophy of care, and personality.
  • Timing: How frequently will you use this person as a backup? Will you work with multiple people? Will you back them up?

Where to Look for Backup Doulas

  • Networking within Professional Groups: Attend meetings and workshops hosted by doula organizations like DONA International or others.
  • Utilize Social Media and Online Forums: Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and specific doula networks can be great resources. Be sure to pay attention to hyperlocal groups or those that are regional. If there isn’t one – start it!

Key Qualities to Consider

  • Compatibility: Your backup should share a similar approach and philosophy to care to ensure consistency for your clients.
  • Reliability: They must be dependable, with a clear track record of stepping in when needed.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication with both you and the client is paramount.

Setting Up an Interview

  • Prepare Your Questions: Ask about their experience, approach to challenges, and availability. How do you think you’d work together?
  • Discuss Scenarios: How would they handle specific situations that might arise with your clients? How have they worked with backup in the past? Are your philosophies similar?

Discuss and Formalize the Agreement

  • Clear Expectations: Define the scope of work, availability, and duties. For example, do you expect them to meet the clients ahead of time? 
  • Payment Structure: Agree on compensation terms that are fair and motivating to all parties. What if you both go to the birth? What if they only cover some postpartum shifts? What if they are only there a tiny portion of the time?
  • Contract: It’s advisable to have a written agreement to outline all terms clearly.

Maintaining a Good Relationship

  • Regular Check-Ins: Keep communication lines open with your backup to discuss past interactions and potential future engagements.
  • Feedback Loop: Encourage sharing insights from assignments to foster professional growth and adapt strategies as needed.

Finding the right backup doula isn’t just about ensuring you have time off when needed—it’s about building a professional relationship that enhances the care your clients receive and supports the integrity of your practice. By choosing someone who aligns closely with your values and practices, you create a seamless experience for your clients and peace of mind for yourself.

Interested in learning more about working effectively with backup doulas? Check out my “Back Ups for Doulas” class for detailed insights and strategies. Sign up today and supercharge your doula practice with the knowledge and tools you need to thrive!

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