I have moved!! It finally happened on November 12. I had been slowly packing but veered into panic mode the week before. I was supposed to move in May. That moved to August when we found out our daughter was having a baby. The plan was for Tom to come home to visit then we would both fly back to Abu Dhabi.
Then the Covid pandemic happened in March and the United Arab Emirates shut down. Since then, we have been hanging in limbo. Being in limbo does not fit well with being a doula since many prospective clients contact me months in advance. The pandemic did not help either since for a while, hospitals were not allowing doulas in, so I received fewer inquiries.
I referred out numerous clients, which was good for my doula friends, but not so good for my doula heart or checking account. Referring out people who were sent to me by former clients or are former clients is hard to do. My doula friends are wonderful, amazing doulas, but referring out and then still being here when those clients had their babies is hard for my doula heart because I love my clients!
A few weeks ago I received messages from four former clients who shared with me the happy news of expected spring babies! My heart cracked a bit that I was going to miss them all. Then my sweet husband reminded me I could come home! So I will be back April-June 2021 to doula them, spend time with my kids and hopefully hold an open house for my clients to help me celebrate 20 years as a doula! So I will be a doula in two countries as I plan to work in Abu Dhabi as well. I am excited for our adventure, but aware there will be adjustments.
My business and our kids are the reasons I didn’t go over with Tom when he started the original 18 month job two years ago. When it became more long term, l realized being together was more important than my business, and our kids are all adults with lives of their own. And they have each other; a benefit of having eight kids! And people in Abu Dhabi have babies and need doulas as well.
This will be the third time I have moved my doula business. I have been asked by other doulas how to get started, so I share this for them! It is not easy to do and takes some hard work.
Doulas rely on referrals from clients and care providers, which makes it difficult to get established. I have been working in this area for 10 years and over that time I have been able to have 3-4 clients on my books each month. I am proud that many care providers in the area trust in my work as a doula to refer many clients to me over the years, as have my wonderful clients.
This did not come easy, but is something I have worked for. When we first moved here I sent packets to care providers and hospitals with information about what doulas are (there was only one doula in the area who only did a few births), along with brochures and my information. From that, I had a meeting with a nurse educator, who interviewed me, took me around to meet some nurses and care providers and started giving my name out. I am forever grateful to her for her help and support.
There was also a hospital labor and delivery nurse manager who asked me to do an inservice for the nurses about doula support. From those experiences I slowly started getting inquiries and clients. I also looked for different places to list my services and told everyone I met that I was a doula. I worked on my website to make sure if someone searched for doulas in any town I served, my services showed up. When I went to hospitals with clients, I made sure I had business cards and handed them out to nurses, midwives, and OBs that I worked with.
I also know how lonely it is not having a doula community. Additionally, it is hard to have a full time doula schedule without other doulas to back you up and to refer people to if you can’t take them. When I was in this position, I went to the internet again and started searching for doulas within an hour of the hospitals I served. I slowly started finding other doulas.
I also started getting some inquiries from people interested in being a doula, and had clients who were interested. I contacted a nearby DONA International trainer who listed a training about an hour from me. I helped her a bit and then went on to host three trainings in my home. I have enjoyed helping mentor new doulas and count many of them as not only colleagues, but friends. This also gives me great doulas to refer people to!
So in the coming weeks, I will be doing this all over again! This time, I have a small advantage in that there is a thriving doula community in Abu Dhabi. So, while I will need to do some work to get my name out there, I won’t be starting from scratch! I have never doula-ed in another country before, so I know it will take some time to get to know how things are done in Abu Dhabi hospitals. Establishing a doula business can feel tedious and lonely at times, but if you are willing to work hard and educate your community, there is abundant need for doulas.