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Doula Service

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

A new baby in the house is a living, breathing miracle. It's also sleepless nights and days that pass in a haze of exhaustion and new worries for new moms and dads. But if you love being around that most exciting of new life forms, participating in the joy a new baby brings to a home, then this could be the business for you. And there's plenty of business to be had--in one recent year alone, nearly 4 million babies were born in the United States. With a doula service (also called postpartum care service or postpartum doula to distinguish it from a birth doula or labor assistant), you'll coach on breast-feeding, baby's first bath, cries in the night, and diaper duty--whatever it takes to help parents cope with the demands a brand-new infant can make on a household. The advantages to this business are that you can start on a shoestring and you get all the fun of being around a new baby without going through the hard parts--from labor pains to worrying about college educations--yourself. As a doula, you should have a genuine feel for new parents and babies, as well as experience with infants. While you won't be a nurse or nanny, you'll need to know how to help new moms with breast-feeding, change diapers, deal with colic and handle the other minor crises of new babyhood that can send parents into a panic.

The Market

Your clients will be new parents. Advertise your services by giving free parenting talks to prenatal classes, then passing out brochures that describe your services. You'll also want to leave brochures with hospital maternity centers, obstetricians, pediatricians and new-parent support groups in your area. And don't forget grandparents--a doula service is a terrific new-baby gift!

Needed Equipment

This is a shoestring operation. Accreditation and certification are available--but not necessary--from the National Association of Postpartum Care Services. If you're a nurse, medical assistant or other health professional, you're a step ahead as far as credibility, but all you really need to get started are your own innate abilities and a reliable vehicle or public transport to carry you to your assignments. And since you're dealing with people's most precious possessions, you'll want to carry liability insurance and have pediatric first aid and CPR certification.