What Hiring a Doula Does for Your Community
My first birth, outside of certifications, was a 12 hour work day for me. From the time I arrived at their home, to the time I arrived and crashed in my bed. There was, of course, the prenatal visits and the postpartum visits, all of that is part of my fee.
My last birth, was a 36 hour birth. I was there almost the entire time sans about an hour when I would run home a few times to food or something else (I lived only a few minutes from the hospital). I was with my client a week before that for several hours as she went through a ECV for a breech baby. Plus the prenatal and postpartum visits.
My fee didn't change because her birth was longer.
In one of the FB groups for birth workers, a story appeared that made my jaw drop.
A birth worker had showed up at a birth and it lasted only a few short hours. When the doula came for a postpartum visit, the mother declared she wasn't going to pay the doula the remainder of her fee - because the birth was so short. The doula then mentioned that the fee wouldn't have changed it the birth was long.
Because while the doula fee covers all our hours (both in person and on call and behind the scenes work), the consumable good we provide, gas for our vehicles, childcare....it also keeps a doula in the area for OTHER moms.
Women hire doulas for various reasons. To be their advocate in the hospital, to serve as a coach, to hold space... but it all boils down to - they hire a doula because they know that we are there for her and that feeling of support moves mountains. We don't work for anyone else (well, we shouldn't).
There are actually several benefits to having a doula at a birth.
Every women deserves to have access to a doula at their birth, if they want one. But the only way that is possible, is for people to hire a doula....and fairly compensate them.
If every family tried to skip out on paying a doula's fee, there would be no way someone could stay working as a doula. Which means another doula either stops working or leaves to find work elsewhere....which means that access to a doula gets more difficult or drops away completely.
At Fort Polk - just in the housing on the military installation - there are 3500 homes. Do you know how many doulas are working the area? Maybe 5 and that is just on the installation. We have towns around us too. Around the military life, there are LOTS of babies born....especially around an installation that deploys a lot. The L/D ward here...understaffed. Doulas ensure that moms get continuous care in understaffed wards. Plus that is counting on all 5 doulas working full time at the same time - we just had a unit come back from deployment and they have summer leave, which takes a few doulas out of the area.
Don't get me wrong, there are some not so great doulas - and no, its not a matter of certified or not - and they should definitely be called out. But there are ways to figure out if that doula will be a good doula (for you AND for others).
So that covered the birth side... what about postpartum?
A supported mother will change the world. She will change the world for her children, she will change the world for her friends.
She holds her head higher and passes on that strength to those in her life.
She is physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.
What would happen if all mothers had that support?
Doulas are not the keepers of this power, we hold the mirrors so that the women can see it in themselves. So that they can see the FULLNESS of themselves. That is really hard to do with a hand mirror while holding a baby and trying to cook a meal for your family.
I am NOT saying that doulas are super awesome amazing women who should be given superhero capes and a six figure salary.
We are background workers ensuring the mother and the family is supported but we can only do that without burning out, if our community supports us too.