So here’s the thing, I was destined to become a doula but I’m a business woman by chance.
On the very first day of university, my professor told my journalism class we’d chosen a career in which we’d never be appreciated financially. That degree cost me a cool $28,000 in tuition, and it takes a hell of a lot more late nights staring at screens and awkward phone calls with strangers than I’ve done to make any sort of substantial dent in getting that money back.
He was right.
After Jschool, I forayed into waitressing, farming, the retail world and finally, motherhood.
Call me a glutton for punishment.
So naturally, when the cosmos aligned and I had my calling as a doula, I hesitated at the role of entrepreneur. Putting a service fee in black and white for all to see, pained. I honestly hummed and hawed about putting it out there in the open.
All I could picture was the distressed third trimester mama, with her ill-fitting t-shirt trying as best she can to wrap up work but also working right til the end, and fit in the one god-damn prenatal massage she has a gift certificate for. The mama who is trying to summon the nesting urge so her house gets clean before babe arrives, figure out which car seat to buy so her future child won’t self-implode, and break it to her mother that she doesn’t want her in the delivery room.
I feel for that mama – because that mama was me.
That mama had already spent $200 on a stroller and $300 on diapers. She had repainted the office in her home in the non-fumey paint and decorated the baby’s room in a woodland theme. She’d spent about $50 on baby clothes and put the translucent plug-cover thingies on the electrical outlets.
That mama and her hubby went to three prenatal classes then offered by public health, so surely they were totally ready to have a baby and raise it on their very own. That woman felt prepared. She thought she was ready.
Fast-forwarding five years and here I am today, a practicing doula, for the very reason that I was not ready for that baby. We didn’t end up using that stupid stroller even once, so we could have saved that money. The baby didn’t even know it had a room for six months, so the stuffed animal fox wasn’t quite necessary, and we did not need to block the outlets that were three feet off the ground in fear our infant’s four-foot arms might reach it to get electrocuted.
In retrospect, what we needed was a good dose of common sense. What we needed was a person.
We did without, as a family can, but we would have loved a doula. We could have really used their guidance and experience (much more than that damn bulky stroller) but, we dismissed the idea because before having our first we didn’t think the cost was justified..
Now that I’ve got two kids, and I am a doula, I have the perspective to be able to tell you why a doula would have been worth it. For us, and for you.
That doula you hire will visit you in the comforts of your own home while you wear your pyjamas, if you so desire, instead of squashing your body in sideways to the confines of a wooden school desk in some high school gym. They pet your cat, deal with your overly affectionate (even grumpy) dogs, they learn all about you and your partner and create a tailor-fitted birth and/or postpartum plan to work for your family’s needs when you are alone without their help. Good doulas bring with them experience, books to lend, workshop wisdom and most importantly, passion, to bring your baby into the world in a healthy and unafraid way.
When you call your doula while they are trying to change their baby’s shitty diaper, dress their preschooler and wake their spouse for the school-run, they will answer your call. When you explain you’ve had a shooting pain down your left thigh, they won’t roll their eyes at you. They will love to hear your groggy voice, and will tell you honestly that everyone calls them for this same reason. They will thank you for checking in, though their life is currently chaotic, and they’ll then advise you to roll over and to relax – that it isn’t labour quite yet.
When it is baby time, a doula will pack up their own kids enthusiastically even if it’s 2am and bring them to grandma’s or a sitter’s. When they meet you at the hospital, they will pin the sweaty tendrils of hair from your face back with a hairband they brought especially for you because they knew you’d forget. They will hand mouthwash to your husband after he’s eaten herb and garlic cream cheese. You may want to hit your spouse for many reasons during delivery, but rest assured it won’t be because of his breath. And after you have breathed slow breaths for the millionth time your doula will be there to pass you some lip balm without your asking, because they just know.
In the tub, they will whip out a bath pillow for you to rest your head on, and a pad for you to kneel on to save your knees from the hospital floor once you get out. They will hover over you, while your body sways, to hold a heated rice bag on your aching back.
Your doula will not break, and no matter how many times you might feel like you physically will, your doula will not leave your side. A good doula is committed to your greatest comfort and your every need. They are proud of your progress, astounded by your strength and privileged to be a part of the process.
Your doula will spend on average, 38 hours with your family. They drive a lot and purchase supplies to ensure your comfort at your hour of need because genuinely, we are a breed of people who are bat-shit crazy about making pregnant women and families feel empowered and happy.
The word doula doesn’t mean slave in greek for nothing.
Your doula will love your birth and you will love the experience of an investment in a good doula.
What’s the cost of a good birth experience? That is your personal decision. When you’re vetting doulas, take a moment to ask them what their fee covers. Chances are, it is more than fair. My fee, as do the fees of all good doulas, covers travel expenses, childcare costs and supplies, then leaves enough left over to make a working professional want to do it all over again.
Let experience tell you, that shitty stroller and those stupid stuffed animals are the worst go-to investments parents make in a pregnancy. Those investments are the ones that so often prevent women from having a satisfactory and supported birth experience.
If you want to make a good investment, invest in a person, not in a plastic.
With love, from one good doula.