What Your Doula Won't Tell You

What Your Doula Won't Tell You

Erin Burt

So, you’ve hired a doula.

I probably don’t need to tell you that this is one of the best decisions you have ever made.

You already know that.

I also don’t need to write an article about how invaluable doulas are to the current birth culture and climate in this country. I probably don’t need to go on and on about what a difference my doula made for me and how I treasure her as a precious part of my birth experience. You already know all this because you did your research and you know that the statistics and the testimonies are replete with how critical the work of doulas and midwives always was, and is today even more so.

If you’ve had your pre-natal (first meeting) you probably received quite a bit of information from your doula about her care for you, and her plan for helping you stay informed and know your options and rights. You probably heard a little bit about her background, too. Doulas are a walking encyclopedia of expertise in all things birth, body, and baby.

But there are things she isn’t telling you.

She’s Undercharging You

The average doula in this country is charging far under market value for her area of expertise. The actual numbers of what a doula makes varies considerably from state to state. Even so, in states where experienced doulas are making a good wage, the majority of doulas working in that state are charging far less than they could. Why?

It’s difficult to understand the complexities of why and how a woman sets up her fee when she answers this call to birth work. But it is certain that on any given day in coffee shops everywhere, hunched over laptops and thrice refilled mugs, is a doula pouring over the latest research and collecting information to update her clients and keep them informed. She’s also doing this at home after the kids are in bed and it’s all off the clock. From a strictly numbers standpoint, by the time she meets you at your place of birth, it is likely she has already far exceeded the wage she is charging you in her research, her time, and her effort.

She needs You to be Pro-active 

There is nothing more disheartening than after spending hours organizing and planning your pre-natal education model for your clients and presenting it to them, having it blatantly disregarded or ignored. You are spending money to be educated and coached by a qualified professional and she wants, with all her heart, for you to have the very best experience you possibly can. Do you have to do everything she tells you to do? Absolutely not. Is it worth considering everything she’s telling you? Absolutely. Because you hired her based on the impression she made on you and her ability to coach you, listening carefully to her wisdom is a wise investment of your time. 

She Needs You to Respect Her Fees

Please pay your doula on time. Every time. The women who choose the rocky but joyful road of birth work are not rich. They work very long and strange hours mostly for the joy of seeing women like you achieve your dreams and have the birth you have always wanted. But they also have families and dance lessons to pay for. They have tuition and electric bills and car payments. They worry about money just like you do.

She Chose YOU

During your interview, your doula was also interviewing you. She was watching and listening to you. She was assessing if she would work well with you and if she felt that you were compatible to each other’s personalities and goals. She was nervous during that interview, just like you were. She was listening excitedly to your ideas and hoping that she could be the one to grab your hand and walk bravely with you in your birth journey. And when you signed that contract, she was letting you into her heart. And it very much IS a vulnerable place to be—this doula work. It is a labor of love and heart and a true calling.

So, love your doula right back, by respecting her time, her finances, and listening to the things she is saying to you…and also what she isn’t saying. 

Lauren resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is a birth advocate and an aspiring writer. In her spare time, she loves to work out, drink copious amounts of coffee, and spend time perusing old and new bookstores.

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