Last month I shared a bit about the awesome client management system Dubsado, and all that it can do to help your business run better.
But, if you are just starting to build your business, you may not feel ready to make the leap into a paid system or platform until you know just what you need.
I've been there, too. So, today I'm sharing with you a list of FREE tools that I've personally used and leveraged to build my business until I felt ready to make that jump.
For client intake forms:
As a doula, you need to keep track of your client's preferences, information, and more. Here, Google Forms is your friend. This free option allows some degree of customization in terms of color and an image at the top. And, the drag and drop form builder is super straightforward.
For online invoicing:
Wave allows you to invoice clients, collect payment via credit card or bank transfer, and includes accounting options as well. While other invoicing options have some bells and whistles, Wave is perfect if you intend to primarily utilize invoicing, and the processing fees are straightforwad.
For digital contracts:
Sign Request offers a free plan that can get you started with 15 free signed documents. If you'd like to upgrade to a paid plan their are lots of additional add-ons, but the free plan is enough to get your business up and making getting contracts signed quick and easy.
If you'd like to avoid the back and forth email train of trying to set a time for initial consult or prenatal meetings or postpartum visits, a scheduling tool like Calendly can make it a snap to streamline the process. Again, the free plan gives you all you need to get up and running, with the option to add more paid features later.
Do you want to offer clients the option to video chat for initial consults? Zoom offers a free plan that includes unlimited time limits for one-on-one video chats, and a 40 min time limit for meetings that include more users.
For graphic design
Looking to create social graphics, brochures, business cards, and more? Canva is an awesome free tool to create beautiful branding for your business. Their graphic and photo library includes images you can use for free as well as those you can purchase a license for or upgrade to their Pro account for even more options.
For stock photos:
Unsplash has a library of gorgeous photos. While you may eventually want to pay for photos more tailored specifically to your brand, this is a great first resource as you start to create graphics and materials.
For social media scheduling:
Later offers a free plan that can you get started streamlining your social media posts. While the free plan limits you in the number of posts scheduled per month as well as scaled back features, it can be enough to help you sort out that piece of the business in a more efficient manner.
I hope this gives you some tools to jump into your business and feel confident moving forward. Did I miss one of your favorites? Please share in the comments!
If you anything like me, you came to doula work because you felt called to support parents and families in and around birth.
But, the running a business part - that part was COMPLETELY foreign to me.
Today, I'm going to share a bit with you about a tool I've found so helpful in keeping my little business running smoothly - Dubsado.*
Now when I say tool, you could think of, say, a can opener or a power saw, and Dubsado is most certainly the latter.
So what is Dubsado? Dubsado is a client management system that seamlessly puts together client inquiries, intake forms (they call these questionnaires), service selections (they call these proposals), contracts, invoicing, and scheduling.
Do you struggle with getting contracts signed, consults scheduled, or invoices paid? Dubsado can significantly lighten your load, allowing you to automate your workflows. The path from scheduling a consult, filling an intake form, selecting a package, signing a contract, and paying an invoice can all flow automatically.
Do you spend significant time crafting emails that essentially say the same thing again and again? Dubsado's canned email feature can save you a ton of time. You still have the option to customize and edit before one goes out, but having a blueprint to follow can be an amazing help.
Do you want to keep all your client information organized and easily accessible no matter where you are? Dubsado makes that possible keeping all client emails, forms, appointments, and payments together in one tidy and easy to navigate client file. I love that I can access it on the go, no matter where I am, making it easy to pull up my appointment schedule, a client's preferences for in-home overnight support, and more.
Do you want to streamline communication with your clients and make it easy for them to access all client materials? You guessed it - Dubsado does that, too. The client portal feature give clients a clean, professional user interface to represent your brand.
That said, Dubsado does require some time and effort on your part to set up forms and workflows - but these are infinitely customizable so they can truly reflect your brand. And, they offer tutorials as well as extremely responsive customer service, so if you find yourself a bit confused, help is just a chat box away.
Want to give it a whirl? When you sign up, Dubsado let's you experiment with three client leads for FREE without a time limit. That means you can take your time setting things up and exploring the platform before you commit. And, when you are ready, you can use my affiliate code nestedmama to save 20%.
All in all, Dubsado let's me spend less time on the mundane business aspects and MORE time with client support - and isn't that what we all want in the end?
*This post includes affiliate links for Dubsado.
Are you a prospective doula looking for information on training and certification? Head here for more info!
While the word doula may be most commonly associated with birth support, the word itself actually comes from the Greek word for servant or "one who serves."
What, then, is a fertility doula? A fertility doula is a trained professional who provides preconception support to individuals and partners as they follow their path to parenthood. Just as a birth doula brings non-medical, non-judgmental informational, emotional, and physical support to the time around labor and birth, a fertility doula brings that same model to preconception and (in)fertility.
Just as birth brings options for choices, so does the path to conception. For clients just beginning their conception journey, a fertility doula provides evidence-based information on tracking and charting fertility as well as holistic resources to support you along the way. Making sure you and your partner are on the same page with understanding how fertility works and maximizing your fertility window can save you stress and guesswork at the start!
For those couples who have been trying to conceive for 6 or more months, a fertility doula can be a lifeline as they navigate options for medication and reproductive technology. Your fertility doula is nonjudgmental and always in your corner - meaning you can feel free to express your concerns and wishes without the pressures that can come from others. Navigating options for infertility treatment can be overwhelming, as can finding supportive practitioners you can trust. Your doula is with you every step of the way, helping you evaluate your options and tune into you intuition as you make these choices which are so important to you and your partner.
As a trained Fertility Specialist, I bring a host of tools to support my fertility clients in their journey. These tools include a mind/body approach (which research suggests aids in conception). A mind/body approach complements any treatments you may receive and also provides you tools that can help you navigate the experience with less stress.
And, as a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Advocate, I understand that your journey to start and grow your family may have included experiences of loss. I understand, too, that pregnancy after loss and/or infertility comes with different emotions and challenges. Because of that understanding, I also extend my doula work to include early pregnancy support - providing the informational and emotional support you need as you move through the early weeks of pregnancy.
For many, experiencing pregnancy after loss or infertility comes with a desire to keep this stage of pregnancy more private, but this can also result in feelings of loneliness - with fertility doula support and early pregnancy support, you don't have to go it alone.
So, when should you hire a fertility doula?
When you first consider trying to conceive or intend to start your journey in the coming months, your fertility doula provides you the insight and the support you need to feel confident planning for this journey.
When you feel frustrated after a few months of trying to conceive and want some holistic tools, your fertility doula equips you with an evidence-based understanding of fertility and fertility tracking education to support this stage of your journey.
When you begin to investigate infertility options, your fertility doula provides the informational and emotional support you need to fully explore your options with no judgment.
When you are navigating fertility treatments, your fertility doula support includes a mind/body approach to complement and support these treatments.
When you are experiencing loss or conception after loss, your fertility doula provides wholehearted support and connection to resources - and most importantly, makes sure you don't feel alone in this experience.
When you move through early pregnancy after loss or infertility, your fertility doula offers continuity of support, walking with you in these challenging and exciting days and weeks of early pregnancy.
No matter where you are on your path to grow your family, your fertility doula will meet you there with empathy and understanding.
Want to learn more about fertility doula support? Reach out for a free discovery call today!
Are you considering make the jump into doula work or a related field?
Exploring all your options is sure to be exciting. Exciting and overwhelming, too.
As I shared in a previous post on my experience with another doula training and certification organization, I'm frequently contacted by those thinking of making the leap into this amazing work of supporting families in the childbearing year. While sometimes these individuals are interested in my work as a doula, more often they are seeking advice on where to go for training and for certification.
As I've written about before, any deep dive into doula training is sure to turn up some polarizing divisions between different organizations, and some doulas can be quite vocal in their preference for one organization over another. That's all well and good - and as I'll share later in this post, I've have my own preferences, as well.
But, what those conversations often fail to discuss is that you are an individual investing in this training, and it needs to be the right fit for your values and goals. So, even as I'll share with you my experiences with Bebo Mia *- and why I think they are a phenomenal option for training and certification - know that all that enthusiasm comes with the caveat that you should pick the best program for YOU.
Bebo Mia is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, but their programs are fully online, which means you are likely to encounter a diverse group of classmates when you enroll in any of their programs. Each certification can be selected individually or in a bundle for a discount - woohoo for that!
One of the aspects that appealed most to me as I explored Bebo Mia's options was their manner of course delivery. Being a busy homeschooling parent, I knew I needed any program to be self-paced and available online for me to make this work with my life.
When I jumped into my first Bebo Mia course, I was so pleased to find a smart course design that makes learning truly a pleasure. Each module includes a video of class instruction as well as any supplementary videos, a detailed PDF document covering the class content, and engaging homework and assignments.
As an educator myself, I always value sustainable assignment design - that is work that has a purpose and a longevity rather than just a checkbox on your way to the finish line. I consistently found Bebo Mia's course content and individual work to further my understanding of the material and produce homework that actually moved me down the path of my knowledge and business goals.
Additionally, with each Bebo Mia course, you will be added to a private Facebook group just for that particular course and session. These groups allow you to engage more deeply in the course content, ask questions, and gain a sense of community with your fellow learners.
If you are on the hunt for a doula training program, know that Bebo Mia offers an in-depth MSP (Maternal Services Practicioner) Program that covers fertility, birth, and postpartum. Where other organizations may try to cover any of these topics in a weekend, Bebo Mia takes a seriously deep dive over 16 weeks. (While I haven't completed this particular course, my experience in three other courses leaves me confident that this 16-week program would be a solid choice for doula training. And, as I LOVE taking classes with Bebo Mia, I could see myself circling back in the future to take this training, as well.)
Currently, I've completed EcoBaby Certification and Infant Sleep Educator Certification, and I'm finishing the last steps in my Fertility Specialist Certification. I've found Bebo Mia's course design, support, and lived values to be incredibly consistent despite the varied topics and additional instructors.
If you are on the hunt for additional training, know that they also offer Diverse Families Certification, Childbirth Education Certification, and Breastfeeding Education Certification - all of which provide excellent opportunities for continuing your education as a birth professional.
If you are already a trained doula but looking for more support as you grow your business, I'd highly recommend you check out Bebo Mia's Don't Doula it Yourself program. For a super reasonable monthly fee, you get access to their library of business videos - covering everything from getting started, branding, social media, and more - as well as their private Facebook group moderated by a business mentor.
Additionally, that library of content is always growing with more masterclasses as well as live Q&A sessions where you can get answers to your most pressing business questions. Starting a doula business can leave you feeling overwhelmed and lonely, but with the encouragement of this generous DDIY community, you can get the support and community you need to grow your business.
If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to spend some time exploring the Bebo Mia website. Each program has a course outline, certification requirements, and ethics statement all right there, so you can get a good sense of what they offer and their values as an organization.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Are you considering becoming a doula and completely overwhelmed by the options for training and certification? I know I was when I started looking into the education I wanted to build my skill set as a doula.
Because I field this question so frequently from prospective doulas, I'm sharing a bit about my experience with training and certification with Madriella Doula Network. (And if my review makes you jazzed to get started, you can use my affiliate code* TOMLINSON154 to save $50 on the Professional Membership - woohoo!!)
If you've already made a foray into the many large doula groups on social media, you'll know that people often feel VERY strongly about their choice of training and/or certification program. While I am pleased with my training and experience, I tend to be a little more tempered in my recommendations because I think that your individual fit with a program is more important than my personal experience. You want a program that is the right fit for YOU.
So when asked about my recommendations the first thing I point out is that in my community, doulas have trained and certified with a variety of different certifying bodies. Because the doula industry isn’t regulated, my general recommendation is to look closely at the philosophies and method of training offered by those that interest you and find one that aligns with your values as well as learning style.
As I searched various doula programs, Madriella's philosophy resonated with me. (You can read about their philosophy, code of ethics, and history here.) Specifically, I like that the organization didn't seem invested in the divisive language that I found in some other programs. I also appreciated the efforts made to keep their training affordable.
When I dug into the program, I was thrilled to learn that the Professional Membership included not one but EIGHT courses including birth doula, postpartum doula, professional development, massage for labor, breastfeeding education, childbirth education, loss and bereavement, and placenta specialist.
If you know me, you know I am a serious serial learner, so the opportunity to have all of that knowledge accessible to me was a huge draw. A little over a year into my professional membership, I've completed five of those courses, and I'm currently in the midst of my sixth.
I also wanted to know that the courses were rigorous, and I would emerge from my training with the knowledge and skill I needed to feel confident in this work. Madriella's curriculum is written by a midwife and the birth course, in particular, is a major deep dive into what you need to know.
Because I was an avid reader about birth before my doula training, I wasn't expecting to be challenged as much as I was - but I was certainly pleased that this was the case. Because Madriella requires all members to complete the first three courses in order - birth, postpartum, and professional development - the courses naturally build on each other. Once you complete those three, you can move onto any of the other courses in any order you wish. I found this really helpful, because it naturally developed my knowledge and meant the other courses didn't feel repetitive.
When you look at doula training programs, it is important to consider your learning style and what course design can help you succeed. For me, reading and writing is my jam, and Madriella's course design works well for this. If I was a different kind of learner, however, Madriella may have not been the best fit - so here is where I really emphasize knowing yourself and what works best for you.
The other thing I needed from any training program was flexibility, and because Madriella is self-paced it fit this need quite well. As the primary homeschooling parent to three little ones, I knew I'd be fitting in this training into the nooks and crannies of life. Because I wrote my dissertation that way after having my eldest, I knew I could make it work if the program was flexible enough.
The flip side of that, of course, is that a self-paced program requires motivation on the part of the learner to complete it. Here, Madriella's online community can be a great help in finding accountability partners or engaging in the community as you move through the program.
In a nutshell, a rigorous program, a supportive community, and a self-paced course design made Madriella the right fit for me.
Is Madriella Doula Network the right fit for you? Jot down my affiliate code* TOMLINSON154 and you can save $50 on the Professional Membership - how awesome!
Got more questions about my experience? Feel free to reach out! And, I'll be following this blog detailing my experiences with another doula training organization - Bebo Mia - soon.
*One of the ways Madriella succesfully keeps the program so affordable is by utilizing affiliate advertising. Please note that as an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you use my code to save on the membership.
In the absence of a "village" to nurture us postpartum, it can be hard to know where and when to reach out for support. Our culture maintains a myth wherein the birthing parent can do it all. In reality, the days, weeks, and months after baby's arrival are a time when a go-it-alone approach can lead to isolation and exhaustion.
At least, it did for me.
Hiring a postpartum doula is one way families can say "yes" to more support and invest in a service that can bring ease into that first year after baby.
But, depending on your lifestyle or little one's age, traditional postpartum doula services that focus on in-home day and overnight support may not be the right fit.
Maybe your support network is great with laundry and meal prep, but you need more nonjudgmental, compassionate conversation to uplift you as you navigate a tricky stage postpartum.
Perhaps you've got your household running smoothly but the thought of having a link to evidence-based resources and a sounding board for your transition into parenthood would offer you a sense of ease.
Or, maybe the idea of a doula in your home doesn't sound like the right match, but a combo of emotional and informational support offered online fits perfectly with your preferences.
If any of the above sounds like you, Online Postpartum Doula services may be the support you always felt you needed but didn't know you could ask for. Now, you can.
So what is Online Postpartum Doula Support?
Nested Mama combines weekly video chats and unlimited emails to provide you heart-centered support when and where you are in life with baby.
Nested Mama is all about your parenting journey and how you build confidence and joy along the way. Online doula support is a flexible way to make that happen when and where you need it.
Want to learn more? Schedule a free 15-min discovery call and see if Nested Mama is the right fit for what you need.
I can't help it - I'm a serial learner. Before starting Nested Mama, I was an academic, and I thrived devouring books and articles. I loved the work of teaching at the university level because I was constantly learning from my students as well as uncovering new depths in the subjects I taught.
Becoming a doula and educator in sleep, childbirth, and breastfeeding hasn't changed my insatiable desire to learn. If anything, the one-on-one support of parents as they navigate one of the most beautiful and challenging transitions of their lives heightens the need to bring more knowledge and skill to the table.
While welcoming a new bundle into the home can be a time of joy, it can also be a time of remembrance where old hurts or the empty arms of loss come alongside those waves of joy.
Statistical estimates of miscarriage suggest that 1 in 4 women will experience a loss.
1 in 4.
And, this number doesn't include stillbirth or those who lose a little one in the days or weeks after birth.
That means if you have not experienced a loss yourself, you won't have to look far for a family member or a friend who has or will experience loss in pregnancy or shortly thereafter. And, because our culture offers little space to speak about and process and remember these losses, you may not even be aware the full extent of the losses experienced by those you hold dear.
That also means when we support families, we need to do better.
I need to do better, too.
This winter and spring I'll be working my way through a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Advocate (P.A.I.L) Training. Once complete, this will count toward certification as a Loss and Bereavement Doula. On this topic, I know I have so very much to learn, and as I do, I hope to share a bit from time to time in this space.
Because we can all do better.
Wondering what in the world is a postpartum doula? Happy to share the answer to this question and more over on the Doulas of Iowa City Blog today!
When my work as a postpartum doula comes up in causal conversation, people often want to know about overnight visits. For those without children, the idea of bringing a doula into your home overnight may seem like a surprising choice. But, if you've ever had a newborn, you know the combination of exhaustion and bliss those hours, days, and weeks bring.
As I reply to these casual questions, I sometimes find it hard to put into words what an overnight visit looks like because the needs of each family can be so distinct, and I tailor the support I offer to those specific needs.
Because of my training, I combine knowledge and experience concerning birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, childbirth education, and sleep education. I love learning and want to bring the best support for my clients - whether during the day or night. And, I'm committed to directing my clients toward evidence-based resources and trusted practitioners - if your question is out of my scope of practice, I want to direct you to those who can answer and support you along the way.
The infographic below gives a sense of what an overnight postpartum visit looks like, but if you are considering overnight postpartum doula support, a free consultation (in phone or in person) will help you feel confident in your plans for postpartum.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.