Recently a client told me that I didn't charge nearly enough. I laughed. I'm not cheap. And then I got thinking about the cost of a Doula and that made me think about the Sister Doulas who have given up and the reasons why.
Some have quite simply burnt out. Now, I always wondered how and why that happened, especially as I can't imagine it happening to me. Well that was until I had done several not so great births in a row. Then I appreciated the 'burn out'. Hospital births can really take it out of you. Let us assume that we all appreciate that the mother does all of the work and that any trauma, shock, adulation and joy belongs to the parents. Now... let's think about the Doula.
She meets, she greets, she shares excitement. She talks through hopes and fears. She de-briefs previous experiences, she helps explore alternatives. She is there to support, to hold, to gently be. She signposts, she reminds, she encourages, she breathes. She sits back, she comes forward, she sits back again. She is respectful to the midwives and doctors and does not try to influence them (well except when she replies in quiet voices in an attempt to bring the volume back down for her birthing mum). She hands over water, food, wet flannels and heat packs. She does not go off duty, she remains in her place. She exults in the power of woman as each baby is born and she weeps inside for the births that become traumatic. She holds all of this and smiles and says words of congratulation. She watches the new families bond and come together. She encourages mum to feed the baby/ies. She take pictures, she remembers weights and times. She kisses and congratulates and takes her leave. She remains at the end of the phone.
672 hours of on call
calls day and night
an unquantified amount of hours for labour and birth
another couple of hours post birth at a minimum