Your heart pounds, your mouth dries, your ears begin ringing, and your face suddenly feels so hot! You just got a call that a potential client wants to meet for an interview. This often leads to a mad-scrambling of resources, or the paralyzing shock of sudden responsibility.
No need to fear! First off, keep in mind these people have contacted you because they are aware of the services you provide, and they are wondering how you as a doula can help them as expectant parents.
Place: Where to meet? There are many different ideas about this. Many doulas feel there is nothing better than to meet in the expectant parents' space -- their home. The advantage here is, you are able to show them you can fit into their home and life. Pregnant women are traipsing to a lot of different places -- the doctor's office, the ultrasound office, the hospital to pre-register, their childbirth classes. Nothing is really accomodating, so to be able to visit a mom in her home can help with the whole why-one-might-want-a-doula-in-the-first-place: Having an advocate to help with physical, informational, and emotional support who is more just a random stranger on shift.
Sometimes a doula might feel meeting in one's home, without any prior meeting or credible information about a potential client can be a safety issue. For some doulas, if they personally know someone who personally knows the potential client, they are comfortable meeting at their home. If it is an absolute stranger, you can try to supersleuth on Facebook to see if the profile is real, see if there are pictures of the pregnant person, see if you have any friends in common. Going with your gut can be helpful here -- we encourage women to use their intuition to aid in their process of birth, we need to remember that and apply it to ourselves, as well.
There is another school of thought that says, this is an initial meeting where no commitment has been agreed upon yet, so the doula and the expectant family should try to meet in a public location about as in-the-middle as can be, which can be helpful if a doula lives a distance from the potential clients. This saves her gas money and travel time. Often if a doula is hired, she makes the full trip to the clients' home for her prenatal meetings.
A good alternative to meeting in a private home is a comfortable, public location. Places like Starbuck's, Barnes and Noble, local tea or coffee shops work. Other places people meet are parks (good if the weather is nice or the interviewee has other children), restaurants, medical office waiting rooms (this helps streamline a woman's appointments), her work place at lunch, WIC Office, baby store, or an apartment's recreation center.
It would be naive not to take some cautionary measures for your safety when going to an interview.
-Leave a note detailing where you are going, who you are meeting with, and how long you will be gone. Information that should be included: The names of the folks you are meeting, the address of the location, the email address or access to any online exchanges you have had with the person.
-Bring your cell phone with you, especially if you are meeting at a private home.
-If you feel something's fishy about the situation, choose a public place, and perhaps have someone come with you, incognito at another table, or as a doula-in-training learning the ropes -- saftey in numbers. I know this sounds odd, and if you really felt strange about something why go at all? There are times, however, where you aren't sure about the situation. If you have a "I'm not sure," kind of situation at or after an interview, or from initial phone or email contact, proceeding with a back-up plan is just an added measure of protection in an uncertain situation.
The point of all of this is not to strike fear into your heart, the point is to remember to listen to your gut and be mindful of your safety as you proceed down this road.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)