Hiring a doula looks like a lot of money on paper, but if you break it down into what she actually does for you and your family, I hope you’ll see that it’s a fair wage.
There's a few (okay a lot of) things coming into play here and I will go through them below:
On call period: We are on call for two weeks before your due date and we stay on call until the baby is born. That can be up to a month. While I am on call, I stay close to home, I rearrange my schedule, I tell my day job that I may have to dash off quickly without much warning, so they need to arrange to cover me if I need to go. I may turn down parties, weddings, or family events that are out of town. I will turn down vacations or weekend getaways. If my husband takes the car downtown, I tell him he needs to have a plan to get it back to me pronto if I need. And for doulas with children, we have to consider childcare – we need to arrange to have an on-call babysitter, and pay the babysitter, too.
On call support: Part of the promise you receive from a doula is that i will walk away from whatever I’m dealing with at the time to answer your phone calls, texts and emails. If I am teaching, I need to leave my class to give you my full attention. You are my first priority when I am on call for you. Everything else will wait. If it’s my daughters birthday party, I will excuse myself and talk with you. If its the middle of the night, I will wake up and talk with you. It might be a quick chat, or it could be something that we need to discuss in length for a long time.
Supplies: For each birth, I need to stock up on some supplies. that means snacks and drinks for me as well as the things that I use for you that either get used up over time or can only be used on one client because of hygeine reasons. These things are massage oils, hair elastics, honey sticks, tennis balls and flax seed hot and cold packs. I buy those to help make your birth smoother.
Hours: Before labour, there’s the hours we spent meeting with you in your home, discussing and answering questions and helping you to plan and get the information you need to make informed decisions. Sometimes these meetings are 1 hour, sometims they are more than 2. It depends on what that particular family needs from me. Sometims I meet a family twice, sometimes four times.
Nobody can predict how long your labour will be. I have had clients in labour for over 36 hours and I have had clients in labour for three hours. Those are both the extremes, but it’s not unheard of. I have been with clients for over 24 hours on more than one occasion. Sometimes I am in the hospital for so long that I see two nurses’ shift changes.
Assisting a labour is physically and mentally difficult. I am often holding mama up, supportingher body weight, or pacing endles hours in the hallway with her. I might catch a few hours of restless sleep upright in a chair next to your bed. I love my work, but it’s hard work. Every birth leaves me feeling spiritually full, but also physically and mentally exhausted.
And we don’t leave you right after the baby is born, either. We stay with you after the birth to make sure you are settled and all is well. that can be 2 hours, but sometimes more. I know a doula who once stayed with her client for 5 hours overnight after a c-section, because that’s what the mother needed. So if you had a 12 hour labour and the new stayed with you for 2 ½ hours afterwards to help you get settled and assist you with getting a proper breastfeeding relationship started, that also needs to be factored in.
Duringyour immediate postpartum time, we will able available to you for some more phone calls, more emails, more text messaging support. And we will come to visit you a few times. When we come to see you, we are there to answer questsions, support you, and help you with your new baby. In postpartum visits I have done laundry, made food for mom, bathed, changed, fed, and cared for babies. I have babysat for a client who needed to go back to work when her baby was 4 weeks old.
All of those hours add up. In fact, sometimes its better to count them as days. I give whole days to you and your family.
Backups: at SWC we work as a team and when in need we will tag team with the other. That backup suport needs to be paid too, and while the doula handles her own payment with her backup and you won’t see that in your relationship or your contract with your primary doula, it will come out of her pocket.
Travel: we usually meet clients in their homes, which means that we have travel costs getting to and from your home as well as occasionally parking costs. Msny of my cleitns live a half hour or more drivign distance from me. If you plan to have your baby at the hospital then you’l lbe well aware of the fact that parking for long periods of time at a hospital is expensive. Well its expensive for us too.
Experience: we are trained, professional labour and birth doulas. On top of that, together we cover a wide range of things that are not directly part of our doula training but that we bring to the table because they complement our skills: counselling, placenta services, henna artistry, dance instructor, Baby Sign instructor and a couple of classes in infant development. We use these skills and experiences to help and support you. That training took time. most doulas complete their doula training in two years. We take our education into our own hands after that and our learning in ongoing. Every year we attend workshops, meet with other doulas, network within our community and we continue to learn and expand our skills all the time.
What it comes down to is this – a full time doula will do a 30 hour work week. She’ll just do it all in two days with very little rest in between.
And she’ll do it all for just one family.