Being a Doula with another Full-Time Job? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone!

I am very interested in becoming a doula. However, I do have a full-time job. Does anyone have any experiences with being a doula part-time or full-time while having another full-time job? If so, could you speak abou those experiences? I would love to hear anyone's take on this situation really, even those doulas who have not simulataneously pursued two jobs!


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#2 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 10:38 PM
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I'm not a doula but if I were thinking of hiring you, I'd just want to know if you would be able to be on call, or if your other job would prevent you from coming to my birth. If you can work around that problem, and you've got the energy for it, I can't see why not.
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#3 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 10:48 PM
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I am uncertified- I just need one more birth to finish, but I am in nursing school so I can't guarantee I can be there for someone so I don't feel right being a doula.

I really hate to lose my chance at certification and have to start all over again, but I don't have anyone to back me up. I doula for free right now, but I would feel like I was manipulating someone- I will work for free but you have to accept that if you go into labor on a workday I cannot be there. Just seems wrong to me.

That's just my .02, and if you had someone to back you up when you were at work I would think it was fine. Or if you can leave work. Good luck!
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#4 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 11:05 PM
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I had a full time job for the first year I was a doula. It helped that I worked for a company that employed a lot of musicians who needed occasional time off for performances. It also helped that I was volunteering. I went to my boss and said, " I have this volunteer job that might require me to take part or all of a day off once every two months or so and I don't know when that will be, but I will try to give as much notice as possible."

I had six clients that year and missed part of one day and one other full day You would be surprised at the number of moms who have their babies on the weekend!

The one conflict that I had was that I went to work a couple times on almost no sleep. I just toughed it out, but it wasn't easy.

Good luck!

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#5 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 11:09 PM
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As long as you can take off with about 10 minutes notice, you'll be fine. People expect you to be on call and available when they call. You can consider working with another dula or a group and take call, but you need to be professional and upfront when dealing with your potential clients.

I will be teaching 2 days in the fall and will be working with another midwife to take those days. My clients are aware and will have a prenatal with her.
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#6 of 10 Old 07-20-2006, 11:37 PM
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I have a full time job and am training to be a doula. I've done about 7 births so far and I have a very understanding boss. He believes that by giving me a few personal days to do my doula thing fulfills my needs as a person and in turn makes me a more productive worker.

I'm a school secretary and I've had a substitute whose been able to fill in for me with very little notice. I've also been careful to space out my births so I don't take advantage of his understanding stance. I also do not charge for births because I don't feel comfortable starting a business at the expense of the FT job that I've held for 4 years.

An advantage to my full time job is that my children have full time care arrangement so I don't have to find last minute babysitting when a women goes into labor.
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#7 of 10 Old 07-21-2006, 12:00 AM
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I am a full-time college professor on the tenure track. I am also a doula and work part-time as a perinatal educator. It isn't easy, but I make it work. Really, since I got the tenure-track job, I made a policy of no new doula clients- I only take repeat clients and friends. It has been good practice for me (a perpetual people-pleaser) to learn how to say "NO" each of my childbirth prep series, I always have at least 3-4 couples who ask me to doula for them. But I turn them down and help them find someone else. Since I instituted the only-repeats policy, I've had about 3-4 births a year. I haven't actually had to ever cancel a class due to a birth (knock on wood), but I have taught several 3 hour lectures after being awake for over 30 hours. Who knows what the students learned from those lectures!

The spring that I was doing my certification (2 years ago), I ended up doing 12 births between March and June, while working full time (never missed a class). It seemed OK at the time, but I look back on it and think :

I must admit that I've realized that it isn't super good for my emotional well-being to be a doula on-call while working full time. The weeks surrounding a birth are always very stressful for me because I am constantly on edge- trying to set up my classes to be taken care of in my absence, day-to-day. Then the babies always come in the night or over the weekend! My DH doesn't think I charge enough to make up for the mental stress (and I'm starting to agree with him!) But I feel lucky to be at the births I've been at, and I feel lucky to have a job that does have some degree of flexibility.

Long story short, I think it is do-able, but it depends on your job, and whether your partner/family is supportive. I know I could never do it if I had children of my own right now.
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#8 of 10 Old 07-21-2006, 01:18 AM
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I agree with what everyone else has said, basically -- if you have a job/employer where you can leave within 10 minutes to be with a client, then it's definitely do-able. I think the worst that could happen would be you're at work VERY tired. Everyone does that once in a while.

However, that said, I wouldn't burn the candle at both ends TOO MUCH, or you might just burn out yourself!
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#9 of 10 Old 07-21-2006, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your responses!

I have been thinking about whether or not I can swing these two positions. I feel like I would be able to take on just a few clients at at ime. I just have a very intense desire to learn about this and to work with women, so I feel like I"ll have to make it work if I want to do it. Also, I work at a very flexibile company and think it wouldn't be a problem but I also wouldn't want to take advantage of my position there..So much thinking to do...

Thanks ladies!
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#10 of 10 Old 07-25-2006, 04:32 PM
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Oh how I can relate to your situation! I am also working full-time, am a birth and postpartum doula and teach natural childbirth classes. My advice isn't much different than those who have already responded. A flexible schedule is a must, as is being upfront with potential clients about your current work situation. You must know your limits and stay within them (only take the number of clients you can handle). I also tell families to keep in mind that it may take me up to one hour to get to them after they call me. I keep my doula bag in my car with two extra sets of clothes just in case I have to change from office attire to doula garb in the hospital bathroom.

I will also add that you have to be honest with yourself about your goals and loyalties. I have struggled over the past 2 years about how to split my time and recently came up with the answer. I don't want to split my time indefinitely. I want to build my business!

Best of luck. I know you can do it!
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