As a doula, I am always looking for ways to go above and beyond and I love finding new things I can add into my practice. Finding these new services that make my business stronger as well as serve the needs of my clients is a big part of my business and sustainability (The “B” & “S” in BEST). For me, infant massage was the perfect choice since I was a massage therapist before I was a doula. We are all in this TOGETHER, so I’d like to share some thoughts about why I chose infant massage and how adding helpful services has helped my business.
I chose infant massage for a few reasons. First, I love massage and I loved the idea of teaching parents to do massage. Massage has so many benefits and I wanted to be able to pass on those benefits. When a new baby joins the family, there are lots of adjustments and challenges - from sleepless nights to colic to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the needs of a newborn. Massage can help parents gain confidence in parenting their little one and it's also a great way to encourage bonding and relaxation.
Second, I was looking for something that would further connect me with families that are having babies. A big part of birth work is developing and building relationships. What better way to build a relationship with someone than to spend a couple hours sitting on the floor teaching them a new way to interact with their baby. Chances are, they are going to have more babies, and hopefully, think of me. I give each of my students a small gift bag filled with a “cheat sheet”, notebook, pen, some candy and business cards. My hope is that they tell their friends about the class and about me. Word of mouth advertising is the BEST!
The third reason was to add something special to my packages and to give me another source of income. I have a basic package, but I also have a package that I add a second postpartum visit to teach my client massage for their baby. I also began teaching monthly classes. I market for these classes to all the mom Facebook groups and breastfeeding groups in my area. I have found that it’s a great way to supplement my income.
There was an additional benefit that I never saw coming. I knew I would enjoy teaching. I knew that I could help moms. However, I had no idea how much of a difference it would make. I had the privilege of doing a one-on- one class with a mom that has a sweet baby girl who isn’t sleeping. I sat on the floor with her. I listened to her tell me the struggle of working, parenting, and doing life on little to no sleep. I taught her to massage her baby. However, I think the most important thing I did was believe in her. I told her she is a great mom. I told her that she can do this. She has a great family and a beautiful baby. In a way, I doula-ed her. I realized that I can benefit my community with infant massage. I can bring parents together to support each other in classes. I can work with them one-on- one, building a relationship, listening to them and giving them another tool for their parenting tool belt. That has a ripple effect that will reach far beyond my class.
Infant massage was the perfect add-on for me. For you, it might be something different. Whatever you decide to add to your doula practice, make sure it’s something that is BEST for you. It should help your BUSINESS to grow and thrive. Make sure it lines up with your ETHICS, and benefits your clients. Don’t add it unless it is SUSTAINABLE and you can do it without overworking yourself. Reach out to others that do the same thing, learn from them and support each other. We are all doing this TOGETHER and that is the BEST way to support women and families.
Erin Swart is a BEST Doula in Warner Robins, Georgia with her husband and two kids. She loves working with all women, but has a special place in her heart for military families. She believes that every birth story matters. Visit Erin's website to read more about her services.