Hillary Melchiors is a doula. She gets to be there for one of the most significant events in a woman’s life. Ironically, her original career plans didn’t include babies in her own picture, let alone become the focus of her career. She also didn’t plan on starting her own business as she prepared herself for a life in academia. Babies certainly have a way of turning life upside down.
Hillary’s plan was to get her doctorate in Medical Anthropology and enjoy a career as a college professor and a life of international travel with her husband. During her second year of graduate school though, she became pregnant, much to her surprise.
Still an academic at heart at that point, she read everything she could get her hands on about the birthing process and motherhood. She wasn’t sure she was up to this new situation. A friend of hers was a doula and Hillary hired her to assist with the birth of her child.
A doula provides non-medical support through the pregnancy, the actual birth and postpartum period. That support is physical, mental and emotional.
The experience with a doula was so positive for Hillary that she decided to have another baby with doula assistance as she completed both grad school and her PhD in Medical Anthropology – still planning on an academic career. But as she started applying for jobs, she had second thoughts and instead started doula training with DONA International.
Hillary started out as a sole practitioner offering her doula services throughout the Tri-State region. But she found the need to be available 24/7 very difficult with two small children. The Doula Group of Evansville was formed with the addition of another doula. In the past three and a half years they have assisted with 86 births.
Services provided to expectant mothers include: a lot of education, actual assistance and coaching during labor; advocacy to ensure the birthing experience that the mother wants is achieved; and emotional support.
The Doula Group gets most of their business from referrals. Physicians make referrals when a patient mentions an interest in natural childbirth, but even more referrals come from existing clients. The connection that is formed is on such a personal level that raving fans are often made through the process.
Hillary’s tip for other entrepreneurs is to know when to ask for help. You can’t do it all by yourself. And lucky for her, her clients feel the same way!
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