The phrase “Every Woman Deserves a Doula” has always bothered me. In fact, the word “deserve” itself bothers me. I recently read an excellent article on the value of a doula. You can read it here: https://www.thedoulatrainer.com/my-doula-journel/2016/12/20/when-consumers-dont-truly-value-your-profession. This article inspired me to write on the topic of deserving vs. valuing.
The definition of deserve is: “to do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment).” Other synonyms are right, just, and fair. This would seem like a good word, but maybe it’s the idea of the word. The definition of Value is: “to consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.”
In our entitlement society, I believe the word deserve diminishes the true value of something. When people believe that they are entitled to something, they typically don’t place much value, respect, or priority on it. In some cases, they expect it for extremely low cost or free. A doula is an investment into your family and birth. Investments cost something, but more importantly the mother (or Parents) must VALUE themselves enough to make this investment. Parents, who hire a doula, make this investment not because they believe this service is DESREVED, but because they VALUE this service.
Before a family hires my service, the most important questions I need answered are: (1) Does the birth mother value herself? (2) Will they/she value me and my services? Why is this SO important? If the mother doesn’t see the value in herself, it will be difficult to value my services that are designed for her. If this is the case, she is simply not my client. Having worked many doula jobs over many years, I have run into my share of clients who did not value me or what I do. What happened in those cases? Frustration on both parties……People do not listen or trust in someone they do not value and because they didn’t listen to their options or value what I said or did they had less than an optimal birth experience.
Some might say “But not everyone can afford a doula.” EVERYONE can afford a doula. Just like time and energy, people put their money where their priorities lie. If having a doula is important to you, you will make it happen. Also many doulas will accept a payment plan, barter, a sliding scale, and/or are willing to work with you.
I run into many doulas, who feel guilty for charging money for services. The article mentioned above claims that the average doula burns out in 2 years. This is absolutely believable because birth work is very taxing on a family. Being on call 24/7, having to arrange and rearrange vacations, missing birthdays, anniversaries, and other family events, all take a toll on any birth worker. I love birth, but it requires me to leave my family, which I also love. Also as birth workers, we seek to bring families the MOST up-to-date information possible. That means, we spend countless hours (at all hours) reading books, articles, and new research papers, to bring this to the families we work with. On top of that, we have trainings, conferences, and education to best support the mother.
With the investment we as doulas have made, it is only reasonable to want to maximize our impact. A client who does not recognize the “work” we do and the value of our service is not going to realize the full benefits of working with a doula. For this reason I don’t say that “Every Woman Deserves a Doula”, instead “Every Woman who VALUES a Doula, Deserves a Doula.”