My doula was worth the moola!
This is a sentiment that brings me an inordinate amount of joy. I have had several clients share this with me after all was said and done and they had their little bundles of baby smelling joy in their arms. My joy comes from feeling valued and validates the fact that, although my fees or moola are by no means cheap, my clients received something of deeper value in return.
I am often asked what does a doula do and why should we pay for a doula? Although I have been a doula since 2003 this seems to still be a very relevant question today. The reality is that whilst this is a passion that I carry deep within my heart and I do it wholeheartedly and willingly, I still need to earn a liveable wage and care for my family.
A doula is a support person that is in service to her clients. She is contracted to offer her time and experience for a set duration of time. Today we typically see birth and postpartum doulas. Some doulas offer a full spectrum of services whilst others are more specifically trained. Whatever your needs, there is a doula for you.
To help understand why you should pay a doula I thought to breakdown what goes into becoming a doula and what a doula therefore offers her clients when she is engaged for her services.
Typically a doula will attend a doula training, this may either be a local training or an international one (little secret here: most doulas do several doula trainings to feel they have a well rounded basis for what they offer). The cost of a training may set the novice doula back some few hundred to over a thousand euros or dollars. This is before she has even engaged her first client. Each training has specific requirements that the training doula needs to satisfy before she may qualify or certify with her chosen training institution. This usually includes reading a minimum quantity of books, attending a breastfeeding workshop, enrol onto an antenatal course with other pregnant couples and a set number of births where she may offer her services for free or at a highly reduced price just to cover basic costs she may incur in her service. This means that before she begins to earn anything a doula has given up not only money but a whole lot of her time and energy as well. It’s all worth it – trust me!
A typical doula is what I term a birth junkie! No doubt about it, she is a birth nerd. She will be on the constant look out for workshops to attend to learn new skills that will ultimately help YOU the client on the receiving end. She will also invest in having some fairly great birth and parenting books so she may loan them out to expectant parents. The hours spent online watching birth videos, reading the latest research and generally continuing her education is also factored into her final price as a doula.
Whilst a doula’s true talent lies within her heart and hands, she will also have a doula bag of tricks. Similar to Hermione Granger’s magical bag with no end, you can expect to find in a doula bag anything from bendy straws, to facecloths, honey, heat packs, socks and hairbands. (fast clue: my doula bag constantly evolves and you could expect to find strange and wondrous things in my bag, like those fantastic beasts and where to find them).
When a doula starts to take on clients she has made a commitment to be present and to be available for her clients. This is not just a 9-5 scenario. Whilst she may schedule antenatal visits to fit in more with typical office hours, she is basically going to be on call 24/7 from when you are around 37 weeks pregnant. Let’s break down what this on call time looks like and how this impacts on her lifestyle:
- The doula makes herself telephonically available 24 hours a day meaning she takes extreme measures to ensure her phone is working and she is able to answer your call or sms even at 2 am!
- She will not take a holiday somewhere further than an hour away from where you are so that should that 2 am call come in, she can get to you in good time (funny but most calls do come in during the quiet hours of the night).
- Most doulas will go to bed fairly early so that they are fresh and ready for you at 2 am, so no late night parties or waiting up to see the sun rise.
- Even what she eats and drinks is restricted so that she isn’t a little tipsy or smelling of the yummy garlic bread she ate for supper and breathing it all over your face (quick tip: eat fresh parsley if you do find your breathe smelling of garlic and want to avoid making someone else nauseous from the smell).
- Birth is as random as life gets, babies usually come when they feel like it, whether it fits in with everyone’s plans or not. This means I have missed Christmas, New Year, my wedding anniversary, my kids birthdays, my own or my husband’s birthday, my kids concerts or plays at least once since I started this merry go round. I have served each client wholeheartedly present in each birth and made up for it later to my loved ones. This carries a cost too even though this is a calling I chose to listen to and follow!
- To be an effective doula, each doula has a support system that can pick up whatever she is dropping at a moment’s notice. When she is called out to a birth, a doula with a family and kids needs to be able to stop, drop and roll with it. Childcare needs to kick in asap. Her child minder is treasured like gold – in other words the child minder is the doula’s doula.
- Doulas are human too and shockingly also get sick or have accidents. Rarely two births may occur at the same time or she may have just finished supporting at a 20 hour long birth and gets called to go out to another birth before she has had time to rest adequately. This means she has retained a back up doula to be available should she not be able to attend your birth. A portion of her fee goes to her back up doula. This shows her commitment to you, she will not leave you without a support person if she cannot be with you.
- After a birth, where a doula has supported in all sorts of weird and crazy positions, she will need someone to put her back together. A smart doula will see an osteopath or chiropractor, a clever one will get a full body massage to work out any kinks in her system. Whatever the doula’s choice, she needs to be back in tiptop shape for her next client. So this money is seen as health insurance.
- There is still so much more but I am thinking by now you are getting a pretty good idea why a doula costs what she does and why you should definitely pay her.
There is no going back. Once your baby is born there is no do over or take two. You deserve to make the best of your birth experience. A doula by your side is having a trusted friend that has taken time to get to know you and what you are hoping for. She offers you the continuity of care from the prenatal period through the birth and into the postpartum. She will be with you through thick and thin. She will encourage you and involve your partner as things become tougher or more challenging. She will think outside of the medical model box to offer guidance and information with helping you through unexpected situations. She will rejoice in your triumphs and she will hold you tight when you feel you cannot go any lower. No matter what is happening your doula will serve you to the best of her capabilities.
Doulas typically charge according to their level of experience, this means that a new doula will most probably start out with a lower fee and as she grows and gains more experience she will increase her price. Sadly most doulas do not charge their worth as they often feel that no one will want to hire them if their fees are too high. Often doulas will offer lesser fees just so that you can have a doula at your side because they know what a difference having a doula will make. Please if you ever find yourself trying to get a bargain from a doula – stop – and ask yourself: are you worth a bargain or more? After all we believe you are worth so much more.