Tuesday, 4 August 2015

My "Free" Births Are None of Your Business

If you are wanting to turn doula work into a "job" then don't take my class.  Please...DO NOT.   BASIC (Balance, Affirmation, Skills, Information, Confidence), our birth doula primer, is permeated with the soft skills of compassion, sacrifice, emotional investment and service.  And before you go off on a rant about not getting paid and "giving yourself away", I remind you that when we give, we also receive.  Doula work is more than a "job", it is as honoured a service as midwifery and it requires a depth of caring and investment that cannot...absolutely CANNOT be compensated for monetarily.
Your time, your expenses, your knowledge; these things can be accounted for on a balance sheet, but there cannot be a column for the emotional currency that is traded between us and the women we serve.  Often in service industries, balance sheets require some creative massaging to reflect the priorities of the provider.  Who is to say that the births I did "for no money" did not hold for me something more precious?  Not you.  You cannot say that for *me*.  You will not tell me that I have to abide by your set of priorities and charge money for all births I attend.  That is between me and my client and it is a sacred exchange.  It's none of your business.  And before you go off on a rant about my "free births" (and I haven't done many but the ones I have done were amply "paid for") I point out that there isn't a profession out there today that doesn't play some type of philanthropic role in each community.
One of our sons is a metal fabricator.  He works for a small machine shop that relies on word of mouth and a handshake.  Every day someone comes into the shop that needs something done but that cannot pay and every day one of the guys finds a way to help that customer.  Its good business and it's the right thing to do.  It, in no way, stops paying customers from coming in and it goes a very long way to creating the trust that a small business needs.
I think, in our effort to "value" the doula we have focused on one method of payment to the exclusion of others.  This is short sighted and insulting.
Full time doula work isn't for the faint at heart.  It is is bloody hard work that will cost you in ways that simply can't be compensated for.  Life on call, the stresses of a full time practise, they aren't for just anyone wanting to pay their bills and if you expect that you will be in big trouble.  We must, above all, in our effort to professionalise, not be captivated by the shtick of hard core sales-women at the expense of the true essence of what we do.  Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water as we do this?  Perhaps.


  1. I agree with your post. I also believe that if others are under cutting (a doula in place and another doula comes along) by attending births for free there is no sacredness in that. If doulas are serving their own needs rather than the client's needs, whether for pay or not, it is not in the best interest of either.

  2. Amen! And hallelujah! There is no spirit of love in the insistence that there is one way only, and that they way should be paved with green paper.