We are shifting the conversation back towards you, the professional who is showing up to serve every single day.
You are where the biggest impact in postpartum health will take place.
If you burnout, if you quit, if you show up as less than your best self…
You are doing the world an injustice.
In today’s episode, we’re talking to Jodi Cognan about the important ways professionals can show up for their business and start to create a legacy.
The truth is, you deserve more time, more money, and more freedom. And the amazing news is, you will be able to offer higher levels of support to so many more mothers and families in the process.
Where to find Jodi Cognan:
In this episode on postpartum business, we are sharing:
Many professionals enter the field with a similar story and purpose
Balance caring for the mother with running a business
Why you cannot only trade time for money
The astronomical burnout and divorce rates among professionals
Investing in continuing education
Paying attention to what the community is asking for
You deserve to be paid well for the way you show up
Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast, where we support you and your provider in understanding the science, the art, and the sacredness of healing after birth. I’m Maranda Bower, your host, your Postpartum Nutrition Specialist and homesteading mom with four wild kids. It’s time to get you the holistic, whole body healing that works. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast. I’m Maranda Bower, and we have Jodi Cognan here. She is the–
Jodi: Hip to heart.
Maranda: She is a birth and postpartum doula agency, lactation and doula educator trainer, business strategist, mom of three. Like you have a lot going on and you are a wealth of information. You just launched your own podcast, which has been off the hook amazing. And I knew that I had to have you here on our show. So welcome.
Jodi: Thank you. So happy to be here.
Maranda: I think we’re gonna switch the conversation a little bit. Like we are always talking to the postpartum mom. And I know more than half of the listeners here are actually postpartum professionals. So I think it’s really important to have this conversation here for postpartum professionals, people who are in the field, maybe you’re a birth professional as well, but you’re working with postpartum as you know, on top of all the things. Let’s have a conversation about being in business. So many people start off their journey of motherhood struggling and then later use what they have learned, use their experience to become a doula or a midwife or, you know, whatever, right? Like whomever they are.
Jodi: We have so many moms in my training, so many moms.
Jodi: And it’s funny enough. So two reasons why they become postpartum doulas. One is because they had one and thought that it was such an amazing experience. They don’t want to go back to their 60 hour a week job. They want to have flexibility, be home with the kids, but also sort of pay it forward. And then the other half did not have a doula. See the value in it after the fact. And most of them had some postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, you know, after and just after they got out of the thick of it, realized that postpartum doula care is such a valuable service and that it’s something that was attainable for them to do as a career, you know, rewarding obviously for them mentally and emotionally and socially and just personally, but also financially rewarding and able to have flexibility in their job to be home with their kids, do whatever they need to do for themselves for their families, but also have a very satisfying peace for themselves, which is their postpartum doula career. So how do you take your passion that you develop? You don’t even necessarily have to be a mom in order to have this, but you find this passion in this field. How do you use that to create a business? Because in reality, I mean, a business and caring for mothers are two very different things. There are two different parts of our brain. It can be really difficult to run a successful business in this field.
Maranda: Can you speak to that? How do we do that?
Jodi: Yes, yes. So I can speak to that because it’s not something that’s really thoroughly taught in our training. It’s because like nutrition, there’s just not enough time. We would be in a training for, you know, 100 hours if we were able to get all of the postpartum info that we wanted to get out to our prospective doulas. But, you know, for me, for my agency, a lot of the doulas that work for me, care is their 1000% focus. So they don’t want to do the marketing. They don’t want to do the invoicing. They don’t want to do the contracts. They don’t want to be heavy in the business part because they love the care. So it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to caretakers. Like it’s a service industry, it’s huge in your heart and not really like the left brain, you know, analytical, scientific people. But it’s something you have to learn and it’s something you must, must, must further your education about because there’s so many ways that you can run your business, set up your business, different avenues besides just like the hands-on care, which, you know, it’s so rewarding. I love it. That’s obviously like the meat and potatoes of my agency, but you need to have passive income coming in. So you can take the time, be with your family, go on vacation, not be always trading the number of hours for like a certain amount of money. Because if you do it like that, there is a very apparent glass ceiling and, you know, you calculate, okay, there’s 24 hours in a day. I’m not working all of them, like blah, blah, blah. I can only make this much.
And so I think if you only focus on the care piece and that’s what you get so engulfed in, you will always be trading a certain amount of time for a certain amount of money. And as a doula, you can easily work 80 hours a week. I mean, especially if you’re throwing birth into it and you’re burnt out, you know, never mind care for like people other than your clients, you know, which could be your family, self-care, like bye-bye, there is no time for it. There’s no energy for it. I mean, I know when I was working crazy hours in the postpartum doula, I’m making these families four-course meals for dinner and then coming home and making myself and my daughter like, you know, grilled cheese or cereal because I’m just exhausted and I’ve done it all day. So I don’t want to go home and do it. And things changed for me when I had my two little kids. My priorities changed a little bit and I really went heavy into the business piece because I wanted it to be sustainable. I wanted it to be successful, but I also wanted it to be the perfect balance for me, something that kind of evolved as my life evolved. And the business is not always going to be the same. I mean, you know, you have four kids, things looked very different when you had no kids, very different when you had one. So I needed a business that changed as my life changed, but still stayed very successful, still grew, still was able to scale easily, and it meant adding some different things. But it is hard when you’re very care-focused to think about the rest of it. The care piece comes naturally to most of us. The business piece has to be very intentional as far as searching for that extra education.
Maranda: I appreciate that so much because you’re speaking of my story as well. I mean, I’ve had a business for over 10 plus years now, I think going on 14 years, if I actually do the math, which is crazy to me. And there’s always been different parts of my business that has really bloomed and succeeded. And then I had to let it go because here comes another baby. And I’ve talked about this often, just the transformation of my business and how it looks over the last several years. I mean, for those of you who have been following me for some time, you know that it is radically different than what it used to be. I used to run a business under Serenity Grows, right? That’s when I was doing dual work and all this stuff. And bless you if you were still following me from that, but like it’s been literally a labor of love, right? And constantly ever, ever changing. But I would have never have been successful in this field had I not done the work of looking at what it takes to run a business and do so without burning out. Because let’s be real. The burnout rate in the birth, as a birth or postpartum professional is astronomical. Astronomical.
Jodi: It’s crazy, yeah.
Maranda: So are the divorce rates. Let’s be real, especially among midwives and doulas. They’re over 80% the last time I checked, which was a couple of years ago, so that might be a little hot, but 80% seriously. And it’s because we put so much of ourselves into others. And when we have a really difficult traumatic situation, we become, we develop a business out of that trauma. We have a tendency to use that as a means to heal. So if that’s you, take note of that. Just put that in your back pocket or know that that could do damage if you’re not conscientious of that. Keep that in mind. So when we’re looking at, okay, how do we start a business and what do we do? Where can we go for that information? You had mentioned to me in a previous conversation the importance of this like continuing education and staying current. Can we talk a little bit about what that means and how do we go about doing that? So I think as far as birthwork goes, you know, we know the American Academy of Pediatrics, and, you know, all these other kind of governing bodies that we, you know, abide by change all the time. Breastfeeding changes all the time. Breast milk changes like every single day we find out something new, you know, so even just terminology, I mean, we’re using, even if it’s not, you know, actual scientific evidence that might just be terminology that wording matters, right? And you have to stay current with all of those things that you are relaying to clients, to other doulas and all of the things that we educate clients that all comes from an evidence-based place. You have to always kind of know what is up and coming in.
It’s hard because new stuff, especially with lactation, you know, even when it comes out as new, it’s not like new, new, you know, it takes us a while to get all of this information. So even for keeping up certifications, you have to have a certain amount of continuing education, you know, every single year, but not everybody gets certified or stays certified. So it’s just important for yourself, you know, when you’re caring for clients, you always want to give them the best knowledge. And I know that you’ve been kind of on the forefront of like the nutrition piece of all of that, which is something, again, that you have to be current on; things are changing all the time. It’s important obviously because we want to give the best care to our clients but it’s important because I think doulas and birth professionals in general are still so small that when someone gives that information or wrong information it’s not just like so-and-so told me this and it was wrong, it’s doulas said that, the doulas did that, and it happens in the hospital all the time so we’re getting a bad rap for like the whole group of us so I think it’s so important especially until we kind of burst through that and get to be more household names, you know. It’s funny because like in the northeast, doulas are super household; like we’re all over the place, we’re like a huge presence in hospitals and home births and it’s fairly easy to find someone for lactation support, but it’s not like that everywhere. I forget that it’s not like that, you know, all over the country. We do need to make sure that we’re on point all the time so we can keep our good name. As a professional, it just, you know, in any other industry you’d always get the most up-to-date information, your accountant, you know, wouldn’t be giving you last year’s information, they always have to be continuously learning and, you know, otherwise nobody hires them. So I just think it’s so important for the professional piece and, you know, you talk to a lot of doulas, I talk to new doulas all the time, I train them, they don’t realize that they’re like business owners. They’re like, “I own a business? Oh my god, I do own a business.” Yes, you own a business, you are doing something, you know, for payment and even before you’re like legit legit, you know, with your town hall getting your license, all of that stuff, you are a business owner. You are building something, you are building your business, building your career, hopefully you’re building a legacy for like your kids. I’m trying to do that, I’d love to retire my husband, bring him right on board, but that, I think, is a big one. You’ll find with doulas and birth professionals that they don’t consider themselves business owners, small business owners, you know, businesswomen, business people, so that’s, I think, the very first thing you have to kind of change as a whole is yes, we are professionals, we are business owners, and some of us grow to have bigger businesses. I mean, you know, we’re never going to be like Amazon or Coca-Cola, but we’re sometimes a little bit more than just a small local business. If you’re a birth and postpartum professional who wants to give the families you serve some solid holistic evidence-based information regarding nutrition, repletion, and nourishing your body after baby, this is for you. I have 18 beautiful pages in a handout form that is completely free. Free full guide to nutrition completion, common misconceptions, supplement support, favorite recipes, 30 healthy and quick snacks, and so many more. You can download your free collection with handouts at postpartum you. That’s the letter you.com/handouts. I absolutely love that so much. And really, like the continuing ed, it’s not just about keeping a good name for ourselves, but for the entire community that is birth and postpartum professionals, no matter what it is that you are doing, whether you’re a doula or a midwife or whomever, this is a role that we play. It’s more than just making sure that our mothers are cared for. It’s making sure that we’re cared for, that our rights are cared for, that we can continue doing this work. It’s so important. I’ve seen over and over again, and we briefly touched upon this before we started this interview, there is a lot out there. There’s a lot out there in the world, and it’s growing in terms of the amount of options that we could have in terms of adding to our business. So let’s just say that you’re a doula, and you’re like, okay, well, great, and I’m a doula, but I want to learn more about this, and I want to learn more about that. And all of these different topics are coming up. What do you recommend that a doula focus on in terms of continuing their education?
Maranda: I mean, there’s so much. And I think that the business piece is, let you know, probably the first one because you could be everything under the sun. And if you can’t run your business properly, you’re gonna be nothing, right? Because clients aren’t finding you, you’re not finding clients, it’s not sustainable.
Jodi: You’re not making enough to keep going, right? I see too many people going back to their nine to fives. But I always say, think about what you’re doing daily with clients. What is the community, the new parent community asking for? What are you consistently seeing in these new parent, new mom, local Facebook groups that they can’t find? Are they asking for childbirth egg classes? Are they asking for placenta encapsulation? Are they asking for postpartum nutrition? What are you consistently seeing doulas post about? You know, “Oh, my client’s looking for this. Do you know anyone?” And follow that. Because just what we think someone needs doesn’t mean they necessarily need it. We have to hear it a bunch of times from the birth community, from our new parent community to really be kind of keyed into what their needs are.
Maranda: So I wanna touch base really quickly on the fact that there are so many things out there and that are available to us. And our community is what should be the drivers and not only the community, but also what’s really interesting to us. But we also have this other component that we want to make sure that we’re touching on. And that is the things that are going to make the biggest difference in the lives of the women that we serve.
Maranda: And the families that we serve. And how do we do that within our scope of practice?
Jodi: Right, that’s a huge one.
Maranda: That’s a huge, right? We talk about this all the time. I hear it so frequently, especially in terms of sleep and herbal use and nutrition. Like many of us are absolutely terrified to add this to our business because it is quote-unquote out of our scope of practice. Yet it is so foundational to the work that we do in healing mothers. It’s got to be included. How do we do that and remain within our scope of practice?
Jodi: Well, I think just the continuing education piece, like Postpartum University, for example, taking those additional trainings but becoming somewhat of an expert in that additional field. And then that’s kind of how I help other people figure out what is something that’s going to be beneficial to their business, something that they are passionate about, something that would be extremely helpful for clients, but also something that’s going to bring a return on that investment.
Maranda: Yeah, for sure. To be totally honest, I mean, that plays a big part in it too. I mean, it’s not all about the money, but if you’re investing in something that is quite a large investment, you want the return on that to be pretty good on the monetary side, but also on the client benefit, your own benefit, that as well. It’s okay to want money. I just want to say that in the world. I hear this so often. I say it every day. It is okay. It is okay. And it is one of the reasons in which keeps us going. Like if we are getting paid very well and supporting our families, the burnout rate would be significantly less. So don’t undercut yourself. It’s okay to get money for the services that you provide.
Jodi: Well, here’s my justification for that because I do have to justify it quite a bit because you all like profit driven and you know what? My agency, for example, we have a lot of clients, a lot of full paying clients, right? Obviously, that is good revenue for the agency. It also is helping 25 times more families than I could help with my own two hands. It also has currently 40 doulas who are getting a full paycheck every single week who may not be getting that full paycheck if they were just trying to get work on their own, right? So it benefits me, it benefits the new parent community, it benefits the doula community, and then it also benefits the community of people who can’t access prenatal, postpartum, you know, perinatal care, whether they can’t afford it, they can’t find it, they don’t know it exists, you know, for all the full paying clients, it’s that much more that I can reallocate to whoever needs our services.
So sometimes it’s teen families, sometimes it’s military families, sometimes I’ll just see a post and it happened today. Someone posts about a client who can only afford X, Y, and Z, but they’re looking for this and they need it for this reason. If I don’t have anyone who can offer their services, like from my team, I’ll say whoever picks up this client, you know, let me know and we can contribute. So you’re making your full salary, but the client is not responsible for that full salary. So for anyone who knocks someone who’s working hard and making good money and has a lucrative business in the birth world, it’s beneficial to so many people other than myself, like it’s not a selfish act. I don’t put in like all these hours every day for my own benefit. It’s for a lot of other people’s benefits and it hurts me that people can’t see that, but most of the time it’s quite eye-opening. They’re like, okay, like now I see the bigger picture, which I shouldn’t even have to be, you know, defending my business, but you do, you do, you definitely get people who are curious, but also, you know, I think it makes them feel better sometimes when they’re knocking someone else and there’s so many people who are also, you know, so supportive. So I mean, the 99% are supportive and love that I have this going on in my area and there’s a bunch of other agencies too that do a similar thing, but yeah, it serves a lot of people well.
Maranda: I appreciate your time and your attention to this so much. I know that we can sit here and have a conversation for significantly longer. Where can people find you and the work that you’re doing?
Jodi: Probably the best place to find me. On Instagram, I am @hiptohart, but I have a Facebook group for birth and postpartum professionals. It’s called Business for Birth and Postpartum Professionals and it has almost 3,000 people in it and it really solely focuses on the business side of being in the birth world. So you’re not gonna get any answers about counting contractions or swaddling anything like that. It’s all about networking, marketing, SEO, starting a business, growing your business. I mean, my sort of focus is the growth and scale piece. So I work with birth and postpartum professionals. I have a pretty established business already to take it to the next level, but there’s tons of people in there. The best part about it is when someone asks a question, I answer, but then everyone else chimes into with their awesome information. So it’s an incredible community. It’s very much collaboration over competition for these 3,000 people.
Maranda: I am so grateful for your time and attention. Thank you so much for this and for all of you who are listening and of course all of her information is in the show notes. Go take a listen, go take a look because we cannot do the work that we are doing in this world if no one hears about us.
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