Birth advice & social media
Myself and Dominique (or @mumalon, 949 followers) became good friends on Twitter first. Only later did I realise that we actually live on the same street! I have been amazed by her passion and a great vision for birthspace, a blog about local maternity services in East Kent. I was fascinated to hear about her experience of setting up a business practice and the role social media plays for antenatal care professionals and the general public (plus what #doulaparty is all about!)
So, here’s over to Dominique:
What prompted you to set up your own business practice? What is your USP?
I decided to work in an area I was passionate about. I enjoyed my job in legal publishing, but the travel would have been too much once I had my son. Every professional I met while I was pregnant was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and I researched ways to work in the pregnancy and birth world, without doing too much study! Luckily someone recommended the NCT antenatal diploma, as it is part time and very flexible around family. Now I’m qualified, being able to work evenings and weekends fits very well with my family.
When we moved to Whitstable in 2010, I found it hard to find out about local hospitals and birth centres in order to better inform the parents in my groups … that prompted me to start birthspace.co.uk – a blog that will provide up-to-date, balanced and practical information about local maternity services, and birth stories from local families. The USP being that this doesn’t currently exist I guess! Currently, I find that parents coming to my classes are given a real mixture of information from varying sources, often conflicting; not what you need when you are expecting a baby.
Was it easier or harder than you thought?
Both. When you have an idea you are excited about, many aspects flow very easily. The harder side to it – for me – has been getting to grips with the ‘technology’ – formatting, layout and images for the blog. I still haven’t cracked this, but felt that with current changes in maternity services, including closures of birth centres, it was important to start getting information out there… however basic the site appearance.
Which social media platforms do you use? Why is it important for your business?
I use Twitter (@mumalon) – Facebook is purely about friendships for me at the moment. Twitter has transformed the way I work in many ways. I keep more up-to-date with current thinking and research, find it easier to test out ideas on the professional community as there is always someone out there with some constructive feedback. Business networks around the birth community provide marketing tips and I have found virtual events or discussions on Twitter such as #doulaparty helpful for birth tips and teaching ideas.
What role do you see social media playing for your business now and in the future?
I’m hoping that it will help with getting word around about my antenatal courses and building a presence in our local area. Some professionals may feel threatened by social media, and, to be fair, there have been examples of chat board discussions where people have shared very negative experiences from local hospitals or birthcentres; however I see this as an opportunity and a vehicle for change. In the past, women would only have shared their birth experience with a very small group of people – now, we have a valuable chance to find out what people really think, and respond. This is what I hope birthspace will eventually be about – what we local parents want to change about our birth services, but also to tell new parents about some of the great birth options we have in East Kent and how they can access them more easily.
If you would like to find out more about Dominique, her blog or maternity services in East Kent, here are her contact details.