I just read the following in a conversation on a local birth worker Facebook group:
"We should get together since we are on the same side of town, you never know when one of us will need back-up."
Actually yes. Yes, I do know when one of you will need backup. Because the answer is that you need back-up 100% of the time for each and every client you take. Forever and ever. Amen.
Taking clients without having a back-up doula and systems in place is not OK. And telling potential clients during interviews that you have a back-up system in place when what you really mean is that you have a Facebook group that you will ask for help when you need it in a bind is absolutely misleading and unfair.
Did this person mean any harm in her comment? Of course not. I'm not obtuse; no ill-intent existed and she was trying to make a networking connection. But still, this is the industry that helps me pay my mortgage, and unprofessional practices and lack of fundamental client care affect me. They affect my family. They affect YOUR family, too!
If you're hiring a doula, I don't care if you're hiring from Intown Doula, LLC or another company or a solo doula or your cousin--it behooves you to ask specific questions about their systems that they have in place for the myriad possibilities that would necessitate a solid back-up. If the professional is unable or unwilling to give you detailed information on the spot about who the back-up is, how the process works, how you can be in contact with that person, and anything else you want to know, that's a red flag.
Some doulas may not know when they'll need a back-up, but I'll tell you right now, I'm confident that I know. And the answer is 100% of the time. Every single time.