Why a doula partnership?
Ciarra Morgan | May 25, 2022
There are many models a doula company can have, and it can be confusing for the consumer, so let's break it down!
A "solo" doula is a one person show. They are the sole support person through your pregnancy, in labor, and postpartum. If they need a backup doula for some reason, they likely have a few doulas they have chatted with about covering birth if they're unavailable when your birthing time comes (i.e.they're sick, they're at another birth occurring at the same time as yours, they just came off of a long birth and need to rest before it's safe for them to drive).
On Call Rotation for a team of doulas
Some companies have a team of doulas, and they have a rotation. There might be ten doulas, and they will all rotate schedule. Doula A might be Monday, Doula B Tuesday, etc. and they go to the birth of whoever goes into labor in their on-call window.
Partnered Doulas or Co-Doulas
Some doulas have a partnership between themselves and share clients. They tend to run one week on, one week off, and cover each other for things like their children's birthday dinners and anniversary celebrations with their spouse. You meet both doulas in this type of partnership and have a familiarity with each of them before your birthing day. The doula on call when you go into labor attends your birth. In case of backup being needed, the other co-doula is there for you.
Austin, Texas and the surrounding area (the service area Empowered Beginnings serves) has doulas that fit into each of these categories. There is also a group called the Central Texas Doula Association that doulas can join, and you can send in a request to have doulas reach out to you. Not all doulas in Austin are part of the Central Texas Doula Association, but many are! The group has both birth and postpartum doulas.
What model does Empowered Beginnings fit into?
We have two types of models within Empowered Beginnings. Ciarra and Samantha are partnered or co-doulas. The other Empowered Doulas are solo doulas and back each other up. Ciarra and Samantha used to both be solo doulas but decided to join forces in 2022.
Why did Ciarra and Samantha decide to become co-doulas?
Birth work is incredibly rewarding and equally taxing (on the birth worker and their family). Birth workers tend to burn out long before they intended to retire. Many people do not realize how much goes into being on call 24/7/365. Birth doulas are generally on call for each client for the window of 37 to 42 weeks of pregnancy, meaning they are promising to not be out of town or have something planned during those 5 weeks that would get in the way of them attending your birth. That means they are not going on weekend camping trips with their families, getting concert tickets to their favorite band, etc. Even something as simple as going to church has more go into it than you might imagine. If I am within a client's "on-call" window, my husband and I drive separately to church so I can leave if I need to since our house is the opposite direction as any of the local birth centers or hospitals. It is not often I would have to hit the road and go immediately, but there's always the chance (especially if the client is a second timer with a history of fast births). Think about planning a 5-year old's birthday party. I either must take off 5 weeks (so I don't have anyone in that 37–42-week window) to plan a birthday party OR I have to risk missing the party if someone is in labor. Sometimes doula families understand if you have a day or two where you are going to have a backup be on call, but for some people that stresses them out too much and they'd choose another doula because of it.
Samantha and I have worked together since the beginning of 2021 and decided in 2022 to join forces. When you hire one of us, you hire both of us. Here is what that looks like when you hire us...
Once paperwork is signed and a deposit is made, we start a group text message between the birthing person, their partner, and ourselves. You can use this group chat to ask your random questions that come up, update us on something you want us to know, or just to feel supported and connected throughout your pregnancy. If you need to chat with us, just shoot us a text and we can schedule it. Our basics package has two prenatal meetings. You will have one of these with me and one of them with Samantha. We go over different things at each of these and we keep notes that we share with each other, so both of us will always be up to date on what is going on with you. When you go into labor you will be sending us text updates about what is going on. Whichever of us is on call will likely be the one replying to these messages and will join you once you feel you need in person, physical support. For your postpartum follow up meeting (sometime around the one-week mark from your birth), the doula that attended your birth will be the one to come.
What are the benefits of a co-doula model for the clients we serve?
- Our prenatal and postpartum follow up meetings are scheduled on weeks we are "off call". This means we are unlikely to have to reschedule these meetings last minute because we have been called to a birth. This was something we encountered often as solo doulas. We know your lives are busy and we make every effort to be able to keep these appointments, so it does not mess up your schedule.
- Sometimes there are situations when a backup doula is needed. Maybe a doula is sick, has a sick child, or has had an accident that makes it impossible for them to attend your birth. Or maybe a doula has two people in labor at once. If any of these situations arise, you know who your "backup" doula is! If it is my week on call, Samantha goes. If it is Samantha's week on call, I go. The only exception to this is if Samantha or I have a vacation or event scheduled during our off-call time. In that situation, we would have another doula we know and trust attend your birth. We limit the number of births we take each month to minimize the risk of needing a backup doula for a situation where three people were in labor at once. This has never happened, and we do not anticipate it, but we've learned to never say never when it comes to babies. They have their own plans!
- Sometimes birth is loooonnngggg. Occasionally someone will have an extended labor where they need continuous labor support for longer than one doula can safely attend while still being safe to drive home. If this happens, we back each other up and either come labor sit while the other doula takes a nap, or we take over for the remainder of the birth. There are also situations where a doula gets off a long birth only to get a text from another client saying labor kicked into high gear and they need us. Again, if one of us just got off a birth and can't possibly serve you in the capacity you deserve without rest, the other doula will go to that birth.
Samantha and I value all the benefits this co-doula model has for both ourselves, our families, and the doula families we serve. Work - Life balance is something we feel is important to be able to serve our doula families for the long term and we are excited to be a team. You get two doulas that have a comprehensive range of experience, coordinate care seamlessly for their doula families, and pour their hearts and souls into this "work". We recognize that this model is not for every doula and it's not appealing to every pregnant family, and that's okay! There is someone for everyone, and we look forward to serving the families that find this model the best for their journey.
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