The value of doula work is a highly debated topic among expecting mothers and doulas alike. How much should a doula charge? What’s a reasonable rate? Many, many blog articles have been written, eloquently breaking down the expenses that a doula incurs and how much her “bottom line” is. I agree with most of those opinions; doula work has value.
Just like any other industry in the modern United States, it is a bit of a supply and demand equation. More doulas flood the market and competition increases, but the beautiful thing about demand is that babies are always being born. There’s no stopping that train. The demand is really more specifically about the growing number of mother’s learning the value of doula work and desiring it for themselves.
As a doula, I value what I do. I hadn’t even heard the word doula until my 3rd pregnancy and I was so fresh into the midwifery care model that I was overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. I did have a doula approach me with her business card and I wish I would have explored the option further. As a doula, I realized my value this weekend…
This weekend our dog became extremely sick. Fever, limping, loss of appetite, syringe feeding to keep him hydrated and two visits to the veterinarian. Both vets wanted to keep him overnight in intensive care. We declined because we couldn’t pay the $1200 emergency vet bill and opted to care for him ourselves. With round the clock care by all 5 family members, we managed to get him through the worst of it but by the end we were all exhausted.
Doulas talk about how we doula’d our child through the flu or how we doula’d our best friend through an emotional crisis. And it’s true, we use our skills on the people we love when they are hurting or in pain. It’s just what we do.
Last fall, we were getting our starter house spruced up to put the For Sale sign in the yard and I was oiling the old front door. All of a sudden, I had a ginormous splinter in my finger. I immediately ran outside yelling for my husband to come pull it out for me. It was large enough to grab with two fingers, but it was a stubborn thing and wasn’t budging. I was hysterical, mainly because fingers have so many little nerve endings. After a few screams my husband promptly looked me in the eye and told me I needed to CALM DOWN. That’s when I clicked into doula mode. I told myself to breathe and focus on relaxing. After he retrieved some pliers to pull the splinter out with, I had managed to calm down. We doula ourselves, we doula our loved ones; it’s just what comes naturally, but it’s actually a skill.
After being awake with our dog and nursing him back to health, I had this thought; “this is why they wanted to charge so much. It’s a lot of intense work.” And then I promptly realized I had doula’d my dog.
It was an epiphany for me.
Up until that point, I had never put enough monetary value on my skills as a doula. It’s easy for me, it’s what comes natural. I enjoy it. But after I compared it to the work that it took to nurse my dog in a very unpleasant, and long night, I realized not everyone has this skill. Other people pay money for overnight vet clinics. Companies pay extra money to their employees who work the night shifts. Being “on-call” also comes with it’s own extra raise. And working overtime or a longer shift than usual gets time and a half. Doula work is all of these things… every day… every birth. And it’s ok to place monetary value on these extras.
You can work a job that you love and get paid for it. I have realized for me, it’s being a doula.