The good news for consumers is that Syracuse now has more avenues for parents to find a birth or postpartum doula. There are two avenues, the CNY Doula Connection and Doulas of CNY.
Earlier today, I deleted some comments on a previous blog post on my personal blog, Syracusedoula, that were left by the owners of Doulas of CNY. I made the choice to delete the comments rather than respond to them because I didn't want to continue the conversation with them, but I am going to go ahead and address it here, on the Doula Connection blog.
First, some quick definitions:
"CNY Doula Connection"- A doula networking group based in Syracuse, with members in Syracuse, Rochester and Utica. Meets monthly to plan marketing and to have fellowship together. Provides free mentoring to new doulas. Charges $75/year membership fee to doulas. Contact info for each doula is accessible via the group's webpage. Decisions are made by voting, usually at a meeting, sometimes over email.
"Doulas of CNY"- A doula agency, based in Syracuse, run by Christine Goldman and Julie Crosby. Members meet together to discuss marketing and talk together. Provides mentoring for a fee. Charges members 25-30% of what they make from each birth, though the fee seems to be negotiable. Clients contact doulas by calling the agency, doulas pictures and bios are listed on their website. Decisions are made by the owners.
The comments that I deleted were addressing that I wasn't comfortable with 1) the amount that doulas pay to be a part of Doulas of CNY and 2) the fact that contact information for their doulas isn't listed on their website. Those are two of the reasons why I personally chose not to join Doulas of CNY.
The CNY Doula Connection is still fairly new and is starting to get the word out that there is another doula group in town. There is another options for doulas now who want to network but need or want to put out less money to do so.
Both of us serve familes, do community outreach, offer sliding scales to clients who need it, take the occasional free birth and are involved in the Syracuse birth community. One is a business, one is a networking group.
Both groups provide support and resources to new and expectant parents. You can call either group and find a great doula.
We have two different ways of doing things, but the service provided is the same. Being a founding member, I personally believe that the CNY Doula Connection is a better option for doulas, but some women will be more comfortable with an organization that has been around longer and does more of your marketing for you and that's ok. With our networking group, everyone has to put in a lot of work to get the word out. Will that change when we've been around longer? Probably.
For a long time, Doulas of CNY was the only game in town, so to speak. That's no longer the case. It may take some getting used to for them, but I think it will only be a good thing. The more doula agencies and groups there are, the more the community will be able to learn about doulas and why what we do matters. Competition encourages growth.