Doulas gotta pay bills too

Moments from the Heart Photography
Moments from the Heart Photography

I was introduced to the world of doulas over 4 years ago now. Since then I’ve been pretty vocal about who they are, why I love them, why I think everyone should have one, and most recently why I wanted to be one, yet I still get mixed reactions when it comes up in conversation. The number one response I get is “a do what?!”. Runner ups include a blank stare and/or a very long winded story about a cousins best friends sister who had a home birth. So while I love talking about the profession, it’s also quite exhausting having to educate the public on all the reasons this is actually a legitimate j.o.b and not a new hobby I adopted via boredom.

Cue a nationally recognized media platform publishing an article about doulas. At first I was excited. This is a platform all the non-birthy people in my life read. They use it to find out What Kim Kardashian’s Social Media Return Actually Means or to laugh at 33 Twitter Jokes That Are Just Very, Very Funny. Actual titles y’all. Did not make those up. But seriously, if doulas were ever going to start being recognized, this was one excellent way to get this profession in the spotlight. Except maybe not.

The article focused on one specific doula training company, not the profession as a whole and the company they chose to interview had some pretty controversial things to say about doula culture. Things I personally believe made a mess in an already complicated conversation and more importantly, things my own training program did not train me to become. So the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’d like to share a bit more into my own training journey and the things my certification program provided me as a woman and professional and how they made me feel completely confident in the career I’ve chosen to pursue.

I searched long and hard for a training program that felt like the best fit. I wanted to find a program that values a positive birth culture and that would provide me a supportive network to lean on as I worked to build my practice. I value professionalism so much and as I researched the doula world it was surprising to find out they are not regulated in any way. It was strange coming from a social work background, because social work has a governing body. We have a code of ethics to practice by and a license to maintain, but many doula paths do not. That is until I found BEST Doula Training. Their program is built around professionalism and continuing education and felt most similar to my professional experiences as a social worker.

Another aspect of BEST Doula that appealed to me was their focus on business training and building a sustainable career. They encourage their doulas to charge a living wage and care about maintaining the value of the profession as a whole. I loved this unique training model and valued their desire to break from tradition and eliminate certifying births while also encouraging their doulas to charge market rate for their skills from the very start of their careers. Oddly enough, this seemed to be a large focus of the doula article I mentioned before, except they wanted to move doula work from a fundamental right to what they called a “luxury service”. Insert all the eye rolls and dramatic gasps.

In my opinion turning the doula profession into a luxury spa service completely diminishes one of the main passions driving many doulas, supporting women and families by building relationships. Thankfully, BEST Doula Training places high value on the relationship. This was drilled into our brains over and over again at training in so many wonderful ways! Yes, money matters, but BEST Doula cares about the relationship being made between client and doula just as much.

I strongly believe you can care about building a career that makes you good money, while also still caring about humans. I can strive to save the world and choose a career helping others, while also still paying my bills and being financially secure. Those two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive and BEST Doula Training offers compassion and empathy while also caring about creating strong, sustainable careers.

Aside from placing high value on professionalism, the team at BEST Doula also made it clear during my training that they still care about the birth world. They may encourage their doulas to keep business and advocacy separate, but they didn’t just diminish the need for community involvement.  They still acknowledged the need to change culture and create an environment that is more supportive of women and their choices and that offers transparent, informed care. They understand that advocating for these things provides even more value to the doula profession and creates more opportunities for doulas to succeed in their practices.

Doulas already have enough issues in their fight to be viewed as professionals. There are numerous myths about what we do and don’t do, including doulas feeling pressured to provide free work, so it was terrifying to realize the voice speaking for the profession on a national platform, was doing so in ways that didn’t align with my training or my personal ethics. I left the article feeling frustrated and defeated so please, all my people, if you stumble upon this article while catching up on Trumps latest mansplainings, please know this is not the doula culture I practice or promote nor is it the doula BEST Doula trained me to become.

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