Wednesday, 7 November 2012

For Love or Money?

Is this doula worth the moola?

Find it here.
So as I'm nearing the end of this doula course I'm contemplating the possibility that I get to earn money doing what I love. That is a very privileged place to be!

High School teaching, ballet teaching, lecturing Art History at three different institutions, importing amber teething necklaces and hazel necklaces - I enjoy all of these things. But, with ballet teaching for instance, I never started my own studio because something in me just knew that as much as I love dancing and teaching, it's not what really gets me up in the morning. If I did force it just because it was what I'd always done, I think it would have eaten me alive.

Working with bellies, birth and babies on the other hand... Now this stuff keeps me up at night! I will sit and read journal articles on the benefits of one birth position over another for hours, or sit with a mom while she labours for as long as it takes and feel more alive at the end of it than I did at the start.

But I read someone the other day writing about how she found a doula who 'isn't in it for the money, but does it from her heart' and while I understand her point, I get a bit frustrated that it's seen perceived as an either/or situation - you do it for the money OR out of your heart...

I'd love to be be able to offer my doula services for free, all day and every day. 

I'd love to be be able to offer my doula services for free, all day and every day. But when I am helping a mom in labour, I need someone to help look after my girls, and that sometimes costs money (or bribes). I want to do extra courses in hypnobirthing and aromatherapy and massage and breastfeeding (and and and) to be able to help my moms even more - but they all cost money and take time.

Furthermore, being a doula can be really inconvenient! For instance, I have a glass of wine with dinner sometimes, but when I'm expecting a mom to go into labour I won't drink at all, because I am quite sensitive to alcohol and I don't want my driving to be compromised and I think it's disrespectful to pitch up smelling like you've been drinking.

I can't organise holidays or travel too far away when I'm expecting a birth soon - or vice versa, I can't take clients due two weeks on either side of a holiday. If you think it's tough not knowing when you're going into labour, I have the buildup every time I have a birth! Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I just think people need to know.

So I am in the situation where I will need to charge precisely because I love what I do. And you know what, I think that my time and skills, and my heart, are worth it.

Get the T-shirt here.
The stats back me up and the moms that I've already helped would agree, continuous care in labour makes a big difference! But, on the other hand, I do believe that every woman deserves a doula and I'm not saying that I won't ever take clients who can't pay, and I most certainly will do volunteer work as well, but in order to have the space and the finance to do that, I need to charge those who can pay for the service.

Perhaps I could offer discounted services for special cases, or barter my services for car repairs, or set aside a small amount per birth to put towards moms who aren't able to pay the full fee; I'm not sure, I'll have to see how it goes!

So what can you do to make doula care more accessible? If your medical aid doesn't already pay towards doulas (Fedhealth and Momentum do, and Discovery should be signing up soon) then write a letter to them saying why they should pay for doulas! If they do, write and thank them and let them know how much you valued your doula! We, the doulas and midwives, don't have as much clout as you do when it comes to getting medical aids to pay up...

If your hospital doesn't allow doulas as an additional birth partner, find one that does and give birth there and write to the original hospital and tell them why you aren't giving birth there. Or have a home birth and have as many doulas as you like...

Hospitals are very precious about their maternity wards as in the bigger cities women have a choice as to which hospital they want to birth at, and maternity wards bring in good money for hospitals, so if they are losing patients because they don't allow doulas, they would love to know about it! If they do allow doulas, write to them and thank them and let them know how much you appreciated your doula!

The same goes for medical aids that won't pay for home births and hospitals that won't allow private midwives. You as the paying client have the power to make a difference in these institutions!

Was your doula worth the moola? Comment and tell us about it!
Have your writtena  letter to your medical aid or your local hospital? Are you going to? Let us know!


  1. I haven't had a doula before, didn't even know about them when I had my first baby, but now I wish I did have one because I was on Fedhealth medical aid at the time! Now I'm on Sizwe and I'm not sure if they pay for doula's or midwives, but I'm hoping they do and need to find out. I agree with you, if you want/need to make a living out of being a doula then you need paying clients, and that would be really wonderful if you could help out some mom's by giving them your services for free if they can't afford you :)

  2. If you can earn a living doing something you love AND making a positive difference in the world, then grab it with both hands and jump into the deep end! The world needs more awesome doula's...we need to normalise birth and take it back to what it should be - a labour of love bringing new life into this world, not a scary time filled with drugs and pain and fear.

  3. You were worth at least 10 or 20 times what we paid you - I only wish we could afford to pay you what you were truly worth to me in labour! I cannot recommend a doula enough after having you at my last birth, and even my husband (who was very sceptical about why we should pay money for someone 'extra' at the birth, when we can't claim it back from medical aid) agrees easily that you were worth your weight in gold.