Are doulas a luxury or a right? Well...Depending on what camp you sit in, either could be true. If you narrow your opic to the individual business level you may experience confirmation bias and for your own purposes define doula support as a luxury. With this perspective it makes it easier to be more "hard nosed" about your business model and putting earning before anything philanthropic. After all luxuries should be paid for. But this falls apart when you widen the optic and look at birth outside of your own business goals. The research is clear. Continuous Labour Support is vital to achieving better outcomes for mothers and babies. And before you go off on a rant about how, as a doula, you are not concerned with outcomes, I remind you that many of us come to doula work to make a difference. Most, if not all, of the student doulas in my classes self identify as seeking training to help women achieve more satisfying births. They share a passion about helping women, in a myriad of ways, to reach for the births they want with someone at their side that shares those goals and is committed to their realization.
While the "revolution" to professionalize as doulas takes place it is shadowed by a bigger effort to take back birth. At the foundation of this movement sits compelling research that points to continuous labour support as a human right. It's inhumane for women to give birth alone no matter where you live and is logical to think that rich industrialized countries should provide this basic right to all birthing women. It goes hand in hand with ending birth violence and entrenching the authoritarian voice of women world wide.
So if you are struggling with the notion that doula support is a luxury perhaps your optic is wider and you are tuned into the effort to change birth. If you have no desire to change birth, but to instead earn a living it might well serve you to consider doula support as a luxurious item for which women must pay and that those that can't can do without. I am, however, as a person invested heavily in affecting change and educating doulas in how to achieve it, very worried about any effort to re-define doula support as anything but what the evidence supports. It sits squarely, in terms of importance, with the presence of a loved one, as a human right FIRST. Anything beyond that is for your convenience only.