What Doulas Can Teach Us in Times of Anxiety and Chaos
There's plenty for business owners to learn from those who guide expecting mothers through childbirth.
Many of us have read about the struggles parents are having trying to figure out how to homeschool their kids while we all stay inside. Everyone has been compelled to get a little more creative within the confines of their home, but what about soon-to-be first-time parents?
Thankfully, even traditionally in-person professions are going virtual. How does one prepare a mother for the hardest job of them all (raising a child), and what can we learn from it? Ashley Sova, who provides doula services through her company CLEBaby, is like most small-business owners: adjusting, and learning how to support her clients.
“Since our doulas can’t be in the hospitals for the time being, we decided to offer virtual support," Sovs explains. "So even if a mom-to-be had to go it alone, she wouldn’t feel alone.”
Even the most mentally tough people are feeling lonelier than usual, something doulas can appreciate better than most, as new mothers often feel isolated in their experience. “People are feeling extra powerless right now," she says. "Thankfully, doulas excel in the department of human connection."
And even though you might not be a doula, and your employees might not be expecting babies, you can still step up with small acts of consistent, emotional support. Here’s how.
A short text or email saying, “Hey, how you hanging in there?” or “Just saying hi. Let me know if you need anything” goes a long way in the current climate.
Business moves fast, but if you can slow down and reach out to your team without wanting or needing anything in return, your reputation as a leader will grow. And chances are, when you do need that quick report on a tight deadline, your team will respond in spades, knowing you see them as a person and not a cog in the machine.
Don’t Fix, Just Listen
This goes against much of what’s in an entrepreneur’s DNA. Putting out fires and pushing things across the finish line are what most us hang our hats on. But with everything going on, empathy has become a skill that even the most demanding managers must exhibit.
Doulas are the ultimate sounding board, getting text messages and calls day and night. Sometimes they give advice and solutions. Other times, the only thing can say is, “That sucks. I’m sorry.” Sometimes, those four words are remembered more than anything else.
Sweat the Details
With almost everyone working virtually, sometimes things fall between the cracks. Walking over to a person’s desk to get a question answered seems like it was forever ago. You might not be delivering a baby for your business, but if you’re bringing a new product into the world (or trying to stay on track by filling customers orders), sweating the details can help.
Questions to ask could include:
- Have you tested the product enough times to prove it’s ready?
- Has the report been proofread?
- Are orders getting out the door as expected, or are delays happening?
Communication and responsiveness are key between a mom-to-be and her doula. The expecting mother has to feel supported. Overcommunicating might seem like overkill sometimes, but at least for right now, it’s important to stay, and feel, connected.
It's OK Not to Know Everything
One of my favorite authors, Brad Stulberg, has a great line that I apply to my writing frequently: “I don’t write because I have things figured out, I write because I’m trying to figure things out.”
Right now, we’re all trying to figure things out. So even if you’re not a doula, just being there for someone is enough. You might not have all the answers, but that’s OK. None of us do.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer