Selecting Your Backup Doulas

 Welcome back to the Birthing Bestie Blog, where we talk about real topics pertaining to pregnancy, birth, parenthood, partnerships, business, and just real life. Here on the blog, we don’t shy away from talking about the hardships of growing your business or growing your family. Instead, we validate, support, and welcome you with open arms.

Today I’m talking to the doulas and I want to talk to you guys about securing a backup. 

Prefer to watch, doula? Here’s the video for you!

In this work, when we take on clients, we know that most of the time we’re on call 24/7. While everybody’s business is structured a little differently, regardless, leading into that birth-day, we are on our toes! We’re on edge and we are ready to join our clients whenever labor may start.  

But of course, there are times in life that we need a backup.

No matter if you plan to be unavailable for your client, or life just… happens, it’s really important in this work to have a solid backup and people you feel really comfortable leaving your clients with if it’s not you. 

Here are some ways that you can go about making sure you have that solid backup. 

I know that most doula communities are pretty tight-knit, so you may be tempted to make a blanket statement call out within your doula community to ask for a backup. And that is all well and good as long as you really know and trust all of those doulas that you are inviting to throw their name in the hat. 

But something that is really important to consider when securing backups is that when you pick a backup, you’re selecting someone who will represent you while they are on call for your client. So make sure you know them well enough to speak to, not only their work as a doula but their character as well.

So much of this work that we do within the birth space, yes, has to do with our knowledge of birth and our ability to show up and support and hold space for people, But a lot of it is relational too. That’s why knowing the personality of your backup is so critical. It’s so important to make sure that you are leaving a client with someone who you feel really confident in their people skills and who will be a good pair for that specific client.

Obviously, when we secure backups, the goal is never to have the backup be the one to attend that birth, but on the off chance that they are the person to support your client, you want to make sure that you’re leaving your clients in the next best hands if it’s not yours. So it’s incredibly important to make sure that you can speak to your backup’s personality and character.

Equally as important to being able to vouch for your backup’s character is to be able to speak to their abilities as a doula. I don’t necessarily mean that you have to know how many births they’ve attended, what certifications they have, or those types of things. What I mean is that if you have a client, for example, who is laboring in the hospital and delivering in the hospital, your backup must be familiar, comfortable, and open to serving clients in that space.

The same goes for home births. If you have a client who is looking for a specific type of support, at home birth, or at a birth center, you need to make sure that the doula that you are selecting as your backup feels comfortable and confident in those spaces, wherever those spaces may be.

So while it’s nice to be able to make that blanket statement group call out within your doula community, it’s necessary to take it a step further and be sure that you have that connection with the doula who is potentially supporting your clients and representing you.

I recommend even finding a couple of doulas that you click well with and who checks all the boxes for you. Someone who you can vouch for their personality, character, and for their willingness to serve your client wherever they may be.

And once you find those doulas, keep them close and treat them well. It can be mutually beneficial when you have a handful of doulas that you know and trust to lean on– no matter if you’re in a pinch or planning a backup for months in advance.  Build those relationships with those doulas and solidify a backup agreement with them.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be a written agreement, although the business person in me thinks that ‘why not have it in writing?’ That makes it much easier to fall back on and understand what you and the other person agree to on paper. 

Regardless of what the agreement looks like to you, create some sort of agreement with this doula. Whether that be something as simple as a verbal agreement to support each other when backups are needed, or setting firmer boundaries around it like needing to know X amount of time in advance. Perhaps you agree to pay your backup to $X to be on call and $X if they have to attend the birth. There are so many ways to secure good, reliable, and professional backups for this work.

Be sure to set a foundation and boundaries around what you expect from each other in playing this backup role. It makes it not only worth their time but also provides you some comfort and safety when you need to lean on these people. 

If you have an agreement in place, there are no questions and there are less room for miscommunication or errors. So make sure that you solidify some sort of agreement verbal or otherwise to make sure that you’re setting a good foundation for yourself, and for your client.

Another thing to consider when you are solidifying having a backup work for you in your place, whether that be on an on-call basis or actually attending the birth, it is so important to be transparent with your clients about that. It’s really important to have open communication with your client to let them know  I have a backup in place.

If it’s a planned scenario, you can offer for your client to meet your backup ahead of time. Of course, with emergencies, you can’t necessarily plan, but being upfront and transparent with your clients goes a long way. 

Let them know what to expect and who to expect. Being able to vouch for their character and their doula skill set gives your clients so much peace of mind and puts them at ease. Obviously they hired you to be their doula, but if life happens and you can’t be there, having these practices in place makes you look very professional.

All right, doulas! I want to know what you value as most important when it comes to selecting and securing backups for your business.

How do you go about it? Do you have an agreement in place? Let me know what your process is and what things are most important to you when you’re looking for a backup to represent your business.

As always, you can let me know here, in the comments below, reach out to me on Instagram at @ebbirthing, or send me an email at

Let’s all learn together and learn from each other so we can make the birth world a better place. 

All right, do less until next time!

2023 © Erin Brier Birthing