Recently at an interview, a couple mentioned to me how interesting it is, from a business perspective, that I strongly recommend interviewing other doulas and provide names and contact information for other doulas to my potential clients.
They're right, it is unusual for a business to refer to their competitors! But the doula profession is also an unusual business.
As a birth doula, I am building a relationship with a family as well as providing a service. As such, finding the "right" doula for you is a more subjective decision than for typical service professions. You do not need a close relationship with your travel agent, for example.
In addition, the mission of doula care strongly emphasizes supporting the woman giving birth. The DONA International Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics both emphasize the doula's role of advocating for the best interest of the client. Sometimes, what is best for a pregnant family is, well, not me.
Also, there are more than enough births to go around. In 2012, 6% of births in the United States were attended by a doula (https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/). In Lancaster County alone, there were 4,882 births in 2015, and 6% would be 293 births. If all the birth doulas serving Lancaster County were full-time doulas taking four clients per month, we would need approximately 73 birth doulas. I need my fellow doulas, and so do you!
I am only human, and birth is unpredictable. I can become ill, births can be long, and I can have more than one client in labor at the same time. I may have reached my capacity for a particular month and need to refer to other doulas. I must have positive, strong, and professional relationships with other doulas for the times that I need a backup. Getting to know my fellow doulas helps me to refer parents to doulas who may be a better fit.
If I am serious about supporting birthing women, I have to support my fellow doulas. What sets me and my doula business apart from the crowd is me and the personal connections I make with my clients. Positive relationships and a supportive mindset are at the heart of why I do what I do, and why my business has been successful thus far.
Besides, my fellow doulas are wonderful people! Of course I want to promote them!