When working with your doula clients, you'll need to collect information from them – from basic info like their mailing and email addresses, to information like their preferences for birth and how they want you or their partners to support them.
Options for collecting this information include:
- Paper intake forms that clients fill out and return to you, delivered by hand, via email, or retrieved by the client from a client portal on your website or online storage drives like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Online forms that you create and embed on your website, where clients type in all the information and you receive their responses via email when clients click a "submit" button.
- Via a Client Management System such as Dubsado* or 17Hats that utilizes online forms or delivers files of forms to be printed out and completed.
Online forms can sometimes be quirky, causing problems when a client spends a lot of time filling it out and then loses everything if there's a blip in their internet connection. Asking a client to complete paper forms has its own disadvantages. If you have them fill out one that is in a Word or Google doc and they can type in it, the formatting of the page can get wonky and it can be annoying to complete it. If you give them PDF documents, they have to 1) Print it, 2) Fill it out, 3) Scan it, 4) Upload it and 5) Email it.
Another option for paper forms is to create a PDF file of your form and then add form fields after all your questions. You email the file or let your clients download the PDF document to their computer and they can open it, type in their answers, save the document and then email it back to you.
Adobe Acrobat is the program that's typically used to make your PDF files fillable, but the software is expensive. An alternative to Acrobat is PDF Escape – you can set up a free account, upload your files to the website, add form fields to your document, and then you can download it back to your computer. It does take a little time to add in all the fields, but once you've done it you're good to go!
Here's a video where I walk you through saving a document in MS Word to a PDF and then make it editable using PDF Escape.
PDF Escape – Use the free version to create fillable PDF forms online
Savvy Doula Client Intake Forms – These downloadable forms were created in Microsoft Word so they can be customized by you to fit your doula practice. MS Word documents can be opened in Pages on Macs and with Google Docs, though some of the formatting may be lost. Once you have customized the forms to your liking, you can save them as a PDF to upload into PDF Escape.
*Dubsado – Dubsado is a client management system that is growing in popularity among birth doulas. Using Dubsado, doulas are able to keep track of clients from the point of initial contact to schedule an interview, to package selection, signing of the contract and invoicing. Dubsado includes a bookkeeping function, and soon clients will be able to book appointments through the system and be added to a doula's email list. All these integrations will eliminate the need for doulas to use multiple services and will save them time and money. Doulas can sign up to try the service for free for up to two clients, and then they can purchase a monthly or annual subscription to the service. By using the referral code "inspired" at signup, doulas can get 20% off their first paid month. Dubsado's customer service is stellar and they are adding new features regularly. There's also an active and growing free Facebook group for doulas who use Dubsado!