There is a fallacy going around right now in the Doula community. It is being said that Doulas are not needed, or deserved. That Doulas are WANTED, and therefore are a luxury service. I would beg to differ! Women have been supporting women through childbirth for all time. Sure, there wasn’t always a trained, non-medical, non-judgmental support person hired by families to provide, “physical, emotional and logistical support through the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time”. There have been the wise-women, other mothers (who had also gone through natural, and well supported birth), sisters, sister-wives, midwives, the shaman, and so on and so on. The wisdom of childbirth and mothering has been passed down through generations, and only relatively recently has birth become the often frightening, and disempowering, medical process it is today. Women do DESERVE to be supported by their community of mothers and sisters and wise-women. They do DESERVE to be informed, supported, confident, cared for, trusted, and empowered. They may not want a Doula, they may want a Doula who is unavailable, they may want a Doula, who for some reason or another is too expensive for their budget. We don’t always get what we want, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the support a Doula would provide.
As Doulas we are trying to make sense of this contemporary version of women in community. How do we provide this essential service, this service that we feel is so missing from modern maternity care, and not lose ourselves in the process? How do we support our families, as they support us, as we do this work?
I think there can be a better answer than only providing the service as a luxury (and charging as such). I have to admit that I’m not sure what it is exactly. The fact that the field is growing so rapidly at this point in time means that there are more and more women who know that this is important, who believe they can make a difference in their communities. I know we can be more creative though. I know that the problem doesn’t lie in women not deserving to be supported, and asking for support anyway.
So what can we do to create an environment where every woman gets the support and care she deserves, as well as allowing Doulas to make a living wage and support their families? I really think there is a better solution to this than just saying “We provide a luxury service”. Perhaps it lies in the fact that ALL women deserve to feel non-judgmentally supported. Whether they believe that or not is a different story. How do we teach women that they do deserve to be unconditionally supported? How do we teach women to lift each other up, and give that unconditional support? I think once we have an environment that is healthier and more supportive to pregnant and birthing women, the business side of this work will become a little clearer. I hope so, and I guess I’m going to have to remain optimistic as I continue to do this work I love, and provide an essential service to the deserving women of my community. In a way that feeds my heart, and soul, and family.