By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
I recently read a great article in The New York Times: “You Should Actually Send That Thank You Note You’ve Been Meaning to Write” and immediately thought about how this information is relevant to doulas and can help a doula grow their business. When I was growing up, writing a thank you note was “de rigueur” and I wrote a lot of them as a child and teen. Even as a young adult, I continued to write them out of habit. But I have noticed that the “art of the thank you note” has fallen by the wayside and not only do I seldom receive them, I also seldom write them!
After reading this article, I think I am going to start again. According to researcher Amit Kumar, who studies gratitude, the person who received the thank you note was clinically “ecstatic” based on a clinical happiness scale after receiving such a note. These thank you notes often expressed gratitude to the recipient. The sender significantly underestimated the benefits to themselves for sending such an appreciated note. Typically the notes took less than five minutes to compose and were sent by email. My own personal vote is to handwrite them and mail or leave them for the recipient.
After learning about the impact on the recipient and how that can benefit me, I thought of many places where a doula can invest a small amount of time in writing a thank you note and receive great benefits that will help them grow their business and expand their circle of community.
A quick thank you note to a new client
Blasting out a quick thank you note after being hired starts building the relationship between you and your client. Extend your thanks for the trust that they have placed in you to support them and personalize it by referring to some of the personal things they shared. Example: “Thank you for bringing me on to your birth team. I appreciate the trust you have placed in me to support you. Meeting you and John and learning about the plans you have for your little boy arriving in June makes me excited to support you. Thanks again.” Get this note out promptly and let them know you appreciate them!
A thank you for a referral
If a client, colleague, midwife, doctor, or other professional sends you a referral, it would be great to immediately thank them for that, even if you are not hired. Just the fact that they respected you enough to share your information with a client or patient is worth a quick note. It cannot hurt, shows you appreciate the referral and keeps your name at the top of their list.
Thank the doctor or midwife after the birth
After you attend a birth with a doctor or midwife, dash off a quick note thanking them for welcoming you into their workspace and for the care and kindness they provided your client. If you can add something specific about their services, even better! “I really appreciated how you were so patient in answering Heather and Meg’s questions when they had some tough decisions to make.” “When things went sideways quickly, your calm demeanor was really comforting to my clients who were feeling very scared.” Consider including a couple business cards as well, so they can refer you on to others.
The labor and delivery nurse deserves a thank you
The work of the labor and delivery nurse often goes unappreciated by many. Letting them know how much you appreciate all they did for your clients and how you enjoyed working and collaborating together will go a long way to building relationships for all doulas and nurses, which is a great thing. Again, personalizing it wins the prize. “All the extra little things you did for my clients Aniyah and Malik did not go unnoticed. You really worked hard to make their labor and birth experience a great one. I think they loved your suggestion of a hot pack when her back was so painful and you kept replacing it to be sure it was always warm.”
Time to get started
I think a handwritten note is so much more delightful than an email but I recognize not everyone has the time or inclination to handwrite thank you notes. If you do, my frugal pro tip – I collect appropriate thank you notes being offered up on my local Buy Nothing group for free if they might work for my purposes. You can also have some made at very low cost (or print yourself) incorporating your logo, a favorite quote or something more personal. If you do that, make sure your contact info is on the back.
A local colleague who always writes thank you notes includes a tasty little chocolate bar and leaves them for the hospital staff (midwives, doctors, and nurses) right after she leaves the birth. Just sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes before heading to your car after leaving your clients, or even writing them while your client rests with an epidural is an easy thing to do most times.
According to Dr. Kumar:
People tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others for a tiny investment of time.
Something as simple and quick as a thank you note expressing your gratitude can go a long way towards positioning yourself as a respected and memorable professional who deserves referrals from others. This low cost and easy to accomplish action can help you build your business and make others feel good at the same time.
Do you already do this? Do you have any suggestions to add to this post? Might you consider starting this tradition if you have not been in the habit of writing thank you notes before? Let me know below in the comments section.
I’m an avid scrapbooker and make scrapbooks for my clients. They may include pages for milestones, family and holidays. I give them on my last post partum visit. I do 4.25×6.25 mats on each page. A friend suggested that I just cut the mats and let them decide to put it vertically or horizontally and include and add an adhesive roller. I also email a thank you immediately after my first visit and add something personal. I hand write a card ( that I made) to go with the scrapbook with reminders to care for themselves. I only do this part time so I am able to put this much effort in to it. I love the idea of handwritten notes. It is unusual and it shows we took extra time for appreciation.
When writing a note to the nurse, always copy to the management of the birth center/hospital. As a 26 yr employee of a hospital, I know hospitals tend to get negative letters so positive notes (no matter how short) will go a long way to improve your image at the hospital as well as doulas’ images. The managers of L&D at my hospital would come to me and share how appreciative they were to get positive notes. I believe doulas should NEVER send anything negative to hospitals. That would be the job of the parents. And encourage parents to write positive notes also.
I’ve always loved to handwrite notes and letters. I still send my family members “back to school” letters of encouragement even though they’re not all in school anymore;) I am practicing and expressing more gratitude this year and it started with writing notes to a few long time friends, sharing what makes them so special to me. I was also considering writing notes to past clients, thanking them for allowing me to share in their 4th trimester experience and also asking for referrals/testimonials. Hopefully this will be a win, win, win. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement with this post.
Completely agree and very much appreciated the encouragement to all of us to do this!
After a birth I try to note something positive a member of the staff or a doctor did. Most hospitals have notes and boxes to recognize staff — I make a point of paying someone a genuine compliment and leaving the note in the box before I leave.
When my postpartum clients are settled, and ready for me to move on, I always write them a thank you note. I started this with my very first client, a pro bono client (during certification) and have continued it ever since. With every client I have felt so privileged to be a part of their transition and in their lives that I want to say thank you! In this thank you note I devote a paragraph to each family member. Reflecting back on my time with the family, I write about each person’s growth, (of course the baby’s growth:)), their strengths individually and as a family, and encourage them to continue to grow and evolve. The letter gives us both closure, and hopefully helps the family to feel confident that they’re doing great and no longer need my support.