Some people think that being a doula is all flowers and rainbows....I.wish.
I was once asked why doulas charge so much, because (and I quote), "you don't do anything". My heart sank that this first time mom had no clue how hard we work, and how much we have to sacrifice to do what we do. Being a doula is the most rewarding job I have ever had, but it's not the easiest one. I do it because I love it, but I also do it to keep a roof over my children's heads.
I don’t think that people realize that we have so much work that needs to be done prior to the birth; spending hours a week working hard at keeping our business up and running. Website, social media, blogging, networking, answering emails, interviewing potential clients, and answering texts and phone calls are among the long list of things we also do beyond those birthing doors. Clients often forget that if we don’t make ourselves known, we wouldn’t be there to serve them in the first place. We have a bona fide business to run with real taxes to pay!
Today I'm going to give you a glimpse into what being a doula is really like. This is the real stuff. The hard stuff, and the reasons why we charge what we do.
BEING A DOULA REALLY MEANS......
Carrying your phone around with you every where you go. 24.7.
Planning a family vacation months in advance. (Knowing that for every day you are gone, you’ll lose potential clients and income. There is no paid vacation time).
Standing for hours on end during a birth. (Swollen legs come with the job).
Postponing Thanksgiving, Easter or other holiday's when a baby decides to come instead.
Providing counter pressure for hours on end. The real kicker? The longer it goes, the harder you need to do it (if she is trying to go unmedicated).
Driving through torrential rains because babies often come when a storm system moves in.
Holding the barf bag in one hand, while holding her hair back with the other.
Missing your kid's sports game, play, recital, prom, or other big moments in their lives.
Holding your bladder just a little longer...
Leaving the restaurant before your food comes because your client needs you NOW.
Learning the talent of helping to hold baby to the breast with one hand, while feeding the mother with your other.
Learning to take 2 minute cat naps between contractions
Getting pictures sent via text messages in the middle of the night of mystery leakage in her underwear..
Using your shoulder as her foot rest.
Trying to figure out how to take your kids to the water park, while simultaneously keeping your phone with you AND dry!
Going to bed early even though you’d like to stay up, because you don’t know if you’ll get a full nights rest or not.
Laying down your head at the end of an exhausting day, only to have the phone ring as soon as you shut your eyes... She needs you right away.
Getting bodily fluids on you, your clothes or shoes, (and making sure you have an extra set with you).
Finding a sitter that is willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice 24/7.
Researching information for three days straight so that you can help your client with a specific condition to lay out the best birth plan possible.
Passing up that delicious margarita at the Mexican restaurant because you are a light-weight and on call.
Getting bit, smacked, yelled and cussed at.
Driving home after being awake for over 50 hours, and praying you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
Trying to go to bed early because you are fairly certain you’ll get a call around midnight to 2am, butyou can’t go to sleep no matter how hard you try.
Providing counter-pressure every 3-4 minutes for hours on end. (Often stooped over, and oh yeah, try doing it while mom is on her back)!
Perfecting your middle-of-the night -gotta go routine so that you can be out the door in just a few minutes when you do get called.
Taking just the right amount of clients that you will pay the bills and at the same time not take so many that you would have to call in a backup doula.
Paying the doctor their ‘missed-appointment’ fee because you had to go to a birth instead.
Taking two separate cars to the ______ because your client might need you soon.
Holding it together while you support your client through the loss and birth of their baby.
Waking up a 6am on a Saturday morning, and not coming home until 1am Monday.
Thinking you have plenty of time to make your hair-cut appointment, and then things get crazy fast, and you ask your stylist to just “make it even” so you can go.
Sleeping in a chair so that dad can have the pull-out couch.
Wondering if the officer will let you off with a warning because you *really* need to get to your client.
Trying to decide which vending machine snack to eat this time.
Waking up every hour in the night because you know your client is in early labor and worried that you somehow missed a phone call or a text.
Giving away your expensive concert tickets because your client's baby is coming early/late.
Paying out of pocket for your own health insurance because you own your own business. (Especially true for doulas who are single, or have disabled husbands, etc).
Wiping sweat, blood or other bodily fluids off her body.
Leaving a birth, looking forward to a hot meal and shower only to be called half way home. You have to turn around and head to the next one.
Putting yourself in danger as you walk in the empty parking lot or streets to get to your car in the middle of the night.
Paying outrageous toll fees in the middle of rush hour so that you can get to her a little faster.
Rubbing her back, legs, etc - all night long.
Sheepishly accepting an invitation with the caveat: "I'll be there unless I am at a birth".
Being up all night at the ER with your child or husband only to get called to a birth as soon as you get home - knowing that you may very well not sleep until TOMORROW morning
Wishing you could answer the question “how much longer do I have”?
Coming to the realization that the longer and harder your work, the less you get paid.
Being a doula is hard work people! It doesn't matter how long or short the birth is, or how much work she does - a doula will always sacrifice something by simply being on call for her clients. Please, go hug a doula today!