The Best Labor and Postpartum Doulas in Michigan: How Your Doula Does Business Matters
Two words you don't see together often. When most people hear the word "doula" some will envision an older woman; with an apron; hair in dreads; pulled back by a scarf or handkerchief; while doing yoga on a hemp rug in your backyard while you labor in the tub. (Ok, a little over-exaggeration, I know)
And when we hear the word "business" things like deadlines, professional, money, at times impersonal, and nothing birth related comes to mind. Mostly negative and never anything related to doula work. But the doulas here at ExpectingJoy Birth Services are hoping to change that disconnect, and here's why:
How your doula does business matters.
It matters to her and it matters to your birth. If you consider the option of having someone agree to attend your birth as your doula or come to your home as a postpartum doula and care for you, then a little business mixed in can make a world of difference.
Let's just pretend for a moment that you hire a doula. You heard about her in a mommy group on Facebook and one of your sisters' friends hired her for her birth and she said she was great. You meet her and have a great feeling about having her support at your birth. She mentions something about her on-call time for you, which is two weeks before your due date and two weeks after, and how she has a back-up doula in case of emergencies. But you both are so swept up in birth stories that the only thing really business related was her fee. No mention of a contract or what happens if your labor is really quick and she misses it or the back-up doula needs to be utilized. Just her flat fee and some other birth plan options you'll get back to her about.
She tells you her fee. It's $300. Three hundred dollars for her to attend your birth. And have her phone on and fully charged for 4 weeks. Three hundred dollars for xxx amount of hours of support.
Let's break this down, shall we?
Close your eyes and imagine...that this is your third birth. Your last two were 24 hours and 16 hours long. They weren't unbearable but they were tough. You really could have used a doula that entire time. We shouldn't pretend that your third birth will be any quicker than the first two but let's create a "best case scenario." $300 over, let's say 12 hours? That's $25 dollars an hour. But we have to factor in meeting with you possibly up to 3 times (interview and 2 prenatals) driving to meet you those three times and to your birth (ballpark of $8.25 for gas), parking at the big city hospital ($10 for extended hours/overnight), and the cost of a babysitter for the time away from her children (hiring a teen who lives on her block $7 for 8 of those hours, assuming her spouse is home for the remaining hours) = $74.25
Which leaves her with $225.75
12 hours for your birth, 3 meetings with you (1.5 hours long each), and having her phone on and being available for 4 weeks (672 on-call hours) =688.5 hours
$225.75 for 688.5 hours of her work and her time = .33
And you might be thinking, "Hey, this is more of a volunteer thing anyways. Why should she care if she's making so little?" Besides all the expenses that we've included one really important issue isn't mentioned, her stamina. I've seen it many times before where other doulas, who I still to this day look up to, are burnt out far too quickly. Because their prices are so low it like volunteer work. And how many people have the time and resources to put multiple years into volunteer work? Too many amazing doulas are not charging a living wage and therefore are only serving families for a few years, if that. If we truly value this service then we need to pay these hard working women enough to have a balanced life so they can continue this amazing work. Simple as that.
This post is not to shame doulas who still offer their services at these low rates but rather to help spread awareness of their value. Doulas offer an amazing service that should be compensated as such. When the doula values her own time enough to charge her worth then the people she serves will see the benefit and confidence that doula has in her abilities.