When I started working as a doula, a more experienced colleague suggested that I think about who my ‘perfect client’ would be and then go and look for them. But I’ve always found it hard to describe who my perfect client is… is it someone who’s already coming to my Yoga for Pregnancy classes, and loves yoga as much as me? Someone struggling with anxiety who might benefit from being introduced to yoga? Is it someone who’s had a previous difficult birth and is looking for a healing experience this time? Maybe someone who has complicated medical needs and wants a doula to help her navigate the medical system? A first-time mum who is approaching the birth with optimism and positivity? Someone who’s struggling to manage in those heady, early days or weeks of parenting?
Over the last few years I’ve supported people who meet all of the above descriptions – and they’re not mutually exclusive. I’ve come to realise that actually the ‘perfect client’ is hard to pin down… they might look very different from each other on paper. But each and every one of the women and couples I’ve had the honour of supporting as their doula has been ‘perfect’ at that time – the important thing has always been the connection that we’ve formed during pregnancy and beyond, which has allowed us to work together to make the birth or postnatal experience the best it can be.
Some, but not all of my doula clients have also come to Pregnancy or Mum & Baby Yoga. Some have been NCT clients. Some have chosen home birth, some hospital. Some have wanted no pain-relieving drugs, others have wanted the lot! The ‘perfect client’ can only be identified in the same way that the ‘perfect doula’ can – it’s a gut instinct. When we meet for an interview or even chat on the phone, there might be information that we need to find out about each other: you might want to know about my experience or qualifications, I will probably ask about your birth plans, previous experiences and any health issues. You’re welcome to ask how long it would take me to get to you in labour, how much support you can expect throughout the pregnancy and after the birth, if I’m supporting any other clients around your due date, what the logistics are in the event of a transfer during labour – all of these questions are valid and relevant to your decision-making process. But subconsciously what we are both doing is checking out the chemistry between us, because that’s what is going to be instrumental in forming the ‘perfect’ doula-client relationship.