DOULAS; THE NEW USED CAR SALESMAN?
I've been pretty quiet over the last year. I've been watching the doula world change beneath my feet and I can't say that I'm comfortable with what I've been seeing. As a birth doula trainer I am concerned about the new "professional doula" that is trending. Warm chatting? Doula win? Upselling? When did these terms enter our universe? Since when is it alright to be another person that ambushes parents in an attempt to sell them something? Its vile and disgusting. And before you go off on a rant about entitlement to a living wage just think about that for a second. Are you asserting that you have some type of right to approach parents, unsolicited, and talk them into a doula? or to hand them business cards in elevators and coffee shops? Hell, why stop there?! How about we knock on doors and hand pamphlets to anyone with toys in the yard! We all love when people come to our homes, our private spaces and our daily worlds and try to sell us stuff right?
More and more I find myself apologizing to parents and caregivers about "sleezy" behavior by doulas in person and online. As a childbirth educator I now have the distinct pleasure of hearing from parents about how they have been targeted by doulas and hijacked on their computers or in person. How did such a noble and respectful service go so far off the rails? We are perilously close to becoming the used car salesman of the birth world doing whatever we have to to make a buck. Be careful of the rhetoric of entitlement. It can suck you in and before you know it, you are spewing the party line.
The truth is that until we have earned our way into the systems and proven over and over that we can be trusted to put the mother's needs before our own we are in danger of authoring our own demise. We stand to lose a great deal as perceptions of doulas change from a person in service of another with no personal agenda to a person furthering business goals from which parents must be protected.
It's a sharp tipping point. While I'm sure there are many ethical car salesman out there there's no denying that they must shoulder the perception that they are cheezy cheaters out to sell us stuff we don't want or to put a shine on something that we don't need. Are we headed in that direction? I fear that some of us are.