Today on the Edge of Innovation, we are talking with Enza Lilley, a doula from “A Mommy’s Friend Doula Service” about her experiences as a Doula and small business owner on the North Shore of Boston.


Show Notes

Enza Lilley’s Website:

Find Enza Lilley on Facebook

Enza Lilley in the Boston Voyage Online Magazine

Link to SaviorLabs’ Free Assessment


Relationships, Business or both?
Committed to Clients – Being on Call 24/7
First Time Moms and Second Time Moms
A Happy Story and a Sad Story
Writing a Book of Doula Stories
The Business of Doula-ing
Dissolving Barriers – Being a Christian Doula


What’s Coola than a Doula?

Paul: Well hi! I’m here today with Enza Lilley.

Enza: Hello!

Paul: She’s headquartered, or really works geographically out of the North Shore of Massachucettes into Boston and she helps moms bring new people into the world.

Relationships, Business or both?

If you’re an accountant, a plumber, a repair guy, you know, you do dressmaking or whatever it might be, people form relationships, and that’s the key thing. And it sounds like, from what you’re saying, is you had an affinity for both the birth process and children but also for relationships. So, and that’s why, I guess, you were saying it’s really a good fit, the idea of doula because you’re building a relationship and a bond.

So how many of these moms do you keep in touch with?

Enza: Wow. Probably about 180 of them. Facebook is great for that.

Paul: Wow. So you’ve shared a very important part of their life in bringing these people up. And you seem to, I just saw an article. What was the recent article? What magazine was it in?

Enza: Boston Voyager?

Paul: Boston Voyager, and it was sort of an interview with you. And one of the things that was interesting is it had a picture of you and your babies, as you call them. So what, what’s the deal with that? You seem to really like these babies.

Enza: I do love my babies. I’m invited to baby dedications, baby baptisms, first birthdays. I try and have a thank-you party for my clients at the end of the year. Moms and I get together for coffee afterwards. We chat about, you know, nursing, or breastfeeding or pediatrician visits. And we do really form a great relationship.

Paul: So, that just seems… I mean, maybe all doulas do that. Do they?

Enza: I don’t think so.

Paul: So do you have… I mean, you don’t think so, but you must have anecdotal information or people saying that. Is it just a job to some?

Enza: I have been told that I get too personal with my clients from other doulas.

Paul: Oh, from other doulas. But not from the moms.

Enza: Not from the moms.

Paul: So the moms aren’t saying, “Whoa. Stop.” I mean, how can you be, really, any more personal? You know, so it’s like other doulas are saying… What’s the motivation there? Are they talking about a disconnectedness?

Enza: This is a business. They say this is a business. It should be separated from your personal life. You are there to be with them during birth, and it shouldn’t carry on afterwards.

Paul: And what’s their reason for that?

Enza: It’s a business. Why would you mix business with pleasure?

Paul: Why wouldn’t you, if you could?

Enza: That’s my question exactly.

Paul: Okay. Alright. Well, I mean, if you can find a business you love, I was just reading a quote, you know, “Work is…” Oh, I’m never going to remember it. But basically the idea that if you can find something you love, it’s not work anymore. So, I’m trying to think of if we were to redefine your view of the world, how you would deal with that because even if you were just doing it from a customer service point of view to call them up and say, “Hey, how you doing?” I mean, we had our washer fixed two weeks ago and Sears called and says, “How’s it going? Are you happy with our service?” Well, is that too personal? You know, they’re not. But they’re talking about our washer. I mean, it’s not a personal issue. But it sounds like the person, the critical nature of the comment they made was not about the personal level of information but just the involvement, the engagement level.

And so that’s very interesting. So that seems to be an assumed position. Has this been a lot of doulas? I mean, what’s the downside? I don’t see. Unless you don’t like people. I mean, like me. I could go to a party and bring a magazine. So, not that I don’t like people. It’s just not natural for me.

Enza: I guess if another doula doesn’t want her personal life to be on display. Because you’re going to have… If you go to a coffee together, you’re going to have to… There’s going to be back and forth discussion. You’re going to have to bring up your family. You’re going to have to talk about the things you’re doing this summer. Does that make sense?

Paul: Well, it’s not for a private person who says, “Oh, you can’t know anything about me.”

Enza: Right.

Paul: So it’s like, your doctor. You probably have… Whoever your doctor is, you probably don’t know what they’re doing for vacation this year.
Enza: I do.

Paul: That’s one of your gifts, extracting that. You’re a military intelligence person.

Enza: That’s right.

Paul: Yes.

Enza: My husband calls me sergeant major.

Paul: Yes, ma’am. So, that’s very interesting. So do you think of the doulas you know, what percentage are the, “I’m in this for the relationship, for the long haul, for treating them as a person and as a family,” or, “I’m in this for the business”?

Enza: Wow. That’s hard. I’d probably say 80% of them are in for the business.

Paul: Really. Now, I mean, that’s not altogether bad. But it doesn’t sound like the Cadillac of it.

Enza: If you’re in it to make money, and there’s money to be made, especially if you work in the Boston area, doulas can make as much as 1200 to $1500 per birth, which is pretty good. My training was in Iowa. Doulas in Nebraska/Iowa area make 350 to 400. So, you know, 1200 to 1500 is great. So if you really are focused on making money, and that is your focus, then it is your business. For me, it’s not my business. I don’t do this to get rich. It’s my ministry. I feel like women who want a doula deserve a doula. If I joke that if I was living in the 1800s and I was a doula, I would be paid in chickens and canned beans, beef jerky that was dried from the venison, you know. But that’s how I work. The money is great. When I get paid, it’s great. But if you can’t afford me, then I’m still willing to be able to sit with you and talk to you and help you out.

Committed to Clients – Being on Call 24/7

Paul: Oh, interesting. Wow. So it does sound like it’s more of an experience almost for what you’re doing. Because I know that just having talked with you, you get interrupted to… You said here, before we started recording, “I’m waiting for a birth.”

Enza: I am.

Paul: So, you know that phone goes off, and you’re gone. And you don’t know if it’s going to be an hour or 72 hours. And no matter what you were doing, you know, you had concert tickets, well, it’s too bad.

Enza: I’ve missed a lot over the last 10 years.

Paul: That’s a big cost. What do you think of that? Does seeing the babies counter that?

Enza: Yeah. There’s a loyalty there. There’s a commitment. I’m committed to be there, no matter what. And, I mean, I do have backups. But I like to see it from the start to finish. That does give me joy, you know, to be able to say, “I was there. Here’s this beautiful baby. We worked together as a team.”

Paul: Yeah. It does sound very rewarding. I mean, to shepherd these people through this experience.

First Time Moms and Second Time Moms

Paul: Is there a contrast between first-time moms and second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh-time moms?

Enza: I love my first-time moms because they know nothing. And — this sounds terrible, but — they do what I tell them. And they’re happy. Second-time moms, they know what’s going to happen. They know what it’s going to feel like, and they can be really cranky.

Paul: I see. So is that second-time moms that are second-time for you?

Enza: Yes.

Paul: Okay. So it’s just a second time, no matter where you’re form.

Enza: Yes. Yes.

Paul: Okay. Interesting. I can’t imagine it. You know, I get a paper cut and I’m all messed up.

A Happy Story and a Sad Story

I asked you the question earlier about anecdotal stories or interesting things that have happened. Has anything come to mind?

Enza: You want happy stories or do you want sad stories?

Paul: Well, I, I don’t know. I mean, maybe one of each.

Enza: So, one of my stories, was a mom who was delivering at the birth center, and everything was going really well. But, after a very long labor, she decided she really wanted an epidural. So we transferred her over to the hospital, and she got her epidural and everything was going wonderfully. At some point, we saw that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, which just means that the baby pooped. Which also means we need to careful when the baby is born. Sometimes the baby can inhale the meconium, and we don’t want that to happen.

But in the midst of pushing, my client didn’t hear that, although there was meconium, the baby was fine. So when the baby was born, they had to take the baby directly over to the warmer instead of putting baby on mom’s chest.

Paul: Was this her first child?

Enza: This was her first child. And the baby was doing great, but she didn’t hear any of that. And I happened to look over at her, and her mouth is drooping, and she’s got tears coming down, but she couldn’t talk. And I thought she was having a stroke. And I looked at the midwife who looked at the OB, and the OB said, “Oh, she’s in shock.” And I just kept looking at her and saying, “What can I do? What’s wrong?” You know, “Talk to me.” And she wouldln’t talk to me.

And, it was devastating. I didn’t know what was going on.

Paul: I can imagine. Yeah.

Enza: And then this was just a matter of, like, three or four minutes. They were suctioning the baby. The baby was great. They took the baby back over to mom. They laid baby on mom’s chest, and all of a sudden, she just let out this heart-wrenching wail. And she’s sobbing, and she looks down at her baby, and she says, “My baby, my baby, my baby.” And I found out later that she thought the baby had died. She, you know, she was so intense in that moment that she didn’t hear that he was okay. And so that was pretty intense.

So I’m going to use the same client, because then she hired me for baby number two. And the second story is wonderful. I got to her house, and she was contracting every five minutes, and, at every five minutes, she would, you know, grunt a little bit and groan. And then in between that, she would go, “Oh-hoo-hoo-hoo.”

Paul: This is too much information. This is a PG show.

Enza: And I would say, “What is that? Is that a contraction?”

And she would say, “No, the baby’s moving.”

So we continue for a while, and then I realize that when her groans and moans got a little bit more intense, that those were indeed contractions that she was feeling. So instead of being every five minutes, they were every two minutes. So we were in Danvers. We headed to hospital in Beverly. Her husband takes the wrong exit. At this point, I’m in the back seat with her, and I’m screaming, “Don’t push!”

And she’s screaming, “I have to!”

So we make it to the birth center. The midwives had to literally help us carry her out of the car. We threw her in the tub, and within a few seconds, she had pushed out this beautiful baby girl. So those are some of my great stories.

Writing a Book of Doula Stories

Paul: That’s fun. Now I don’t know if this is preempting it, but you’re writing a book.

Enza: I am.

Paul: And is it a telephone book? Or what’s it about?

Enza: I guess you could call it my memoirs.

Paul: Your memoirs. Okay. Usually you have a ghostwriter write those for you, but yes.

Enza: I am writing doula stories.

Paul: Who wants to read that book?

Enza: I hope that everyone will want to read these books.

Paul: Okay. So you’re making it for everybody.

Enza: Moms, dads, other doulas, midwives. Yes.

Paul: And now most people would love to write a book. And if you listen to writes, you have to write one page at a time. And now you’ve sort of announced this — what? — A couple of months ago, wasn’t it?

Enza: Oh, a month ago.

Paul: A month ago.

Enza: Four weeks now.

Paul: So have you gotten any pages written?

Enza: 41.

Paul: 41. Well, see that’s really good. That’s really encouraging.

Enza: I have no idea what I’m doing.

Paul: Are the letters in the right order?

Enza: They are.

Paul: Okay. So that’s really the main thing here, that matters. So what is your hope to do with that? You wanted to… is it mostly cathartic, or is it that you really think that people will benefit from it, or both? Or you want to get to sell the movie rights, you know?

Enza: I would love Julia Roberts to play me. I’s cathartic. I would hope that parents that read it are encouraged. I hope that other doulas that read it can learn from the ways I encourage or just to learn from my mistakes and how not to repeat those mistakes. That’s just a little bit of everything.

Paul: Interesting. Well, we’ll look forward to that. Maybe we can have a discussion about it when it’s out and see how that goes.

The Business of Doula-ing

Paul: Now you had talked a little bit about the business of doula-ing. Is that a word?

Enza: I think we’ve made it a word.

Paul: We’ve made it a word? Doula-ing.

Enza: Doula-ing.

Paul: Dueling. Dueling doulas. Uh, no. Never mind. I could go there. So how busy does this keep you? Because I know you’re at the beck and call of when the baby’s coming. So that’s interruptive. But what about all the other time? How is that?

Enza: So I try and have between three to four clients per month. There are doulas that have a little bit more. There are some that have a little bit less. I don’t go very crazy with three to four. So it’s scheduling the prenatal meetings. So that means I have— what? — four, eight, twelve, twelve meetings.

Paul: So it sounds like if you have… Are you saying three births a month?

Enza: Three to four births per month.

Paul: Wow. Because if they were ideal, they’d be every Wednesday, let’s say. That’s keeping you pretty busy because you’re not going in… I mean, at best case, it’s probably six hours.

Enza: Average is 12.

Paul: Average is 12. Okay. That’s a lot of time. So every Wednesday you are gone, basically. And you gotta recover from that. And then you also have to do the stuff around that with your clients.

Enza: Correct. Plus your post-partum meetings. I stay pretty busy.

Paul: Yeah. It sounds like it.

Enza: And in the fall, I usually have about five births per month.

Paul: So you’re really hopping. I mean, you’re really moving along. Have you ever thought about sort of getting other doulas to work with you? Or how does that work? Is that possible?

Enza: Yes. There’s a lot of doulas that work together. I’ve thought about it. I’m probably in a position now where I could afford to hire another doula. But it just goes back, again, to wanting to be there from the beginning to the end and just seeing it through.

Paul: I would imagine a lot of the value… Small businesses take on the personality of their owner in a lot of ways. I mean, that might be defined as successful ones, if they have a good personality. So that would be an important aspect, I think, for you to do, is to multiply yourself, is trying to figure out how do I find somebody that has the same values and philosophy. And that’s a difficult order, you know. I think you have a great philosophy. But if you’re a curmudgeon, you’ve gotta go out and hire a curmudgeon, you know. Or they’re going to be at loggerheads with you.

Dissolving Barriers – Being a Christian Doula

Enza: And I’m a Christian. So if I have clients who desire Christians to be in the birth room, it’s even harder to find another doula who is a Christian and not into the New Age or things like that. So that makes it even more difficult.

Paul: Has that presented problems for you, being in Christian in these circumstances?

Enza: Never.

Paul: Wow. Okay.

Enza: I was interviewed by a Wiccan several years ago who told me to absolutely not pray or mention the word “God” in the delivery room, and I said, “I will be very professional. I am here to support you.” And halfway through, she grabbed my hands and asked me to pray for her.

Paul: So she hired you.

Enza: So she did hire me.

Paul: So she hired you. That’s a big deal.

Enza: I’ve been hired by quite a few.

Paul: So that’s sort of like somebody in Israel hiring somebody from, you know, next door to, you know. It’s just that it doesn’t seem like it’d be natural.

Enza: Right.

Paul: I guess that says a lot about the quality of your work and your personality and the effectiveness there. So that something that might be a barrier really dissolves away. That’s cool.

So we’ve been talking with Enza Lilley of A Mommy’s Friend doula…What’s the actual title? A Mommy’s Friend?

Enza: Mommy’s Friend Doula Service.

Paul: Doula service. Okay. And, she’s headquartered, or really, works geographically out of the North Shore, Massachusetts into Boston. And she helps moms bring new people into the world.

Enza: Thank you for having me.

Paul: Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure!

Also published on Medium.