“My doctor won’t allow me to go past 40 weeks.”
“I can’t labor in the tub at my hospital.”
“My doctor says I have to be in the bed for pushing.”
“I’m not allowed to eat during labor at my hospital.”
“I have to do the gestational diabetes/Group B Strep test at my next appt.”
“My doctor says I have to have IV fluids during labor.”
“My midwife says I have to have my labor induced.”
“I’m not allowed to walk around during labor because I have to be monitored.”
“My midwife says I have to have a flu shot.”
Do those things sound familiar? I hear them ALL THE TIME. Friends, I have another quote for you.
“How can we hope to make mothers out of women when we treat them like children?” ~ Cole Deelah
Please do not think for a minute that your provider or the hospital staff have any authority over you. In fact, the words “won’t allow,” “I can’t,” or “he/she/they won’t let me” do not belong in maternity care. You are not a child, you are a pregnant/birthing mother paying the members of your birth team to provide you with a service. You are the boss of your birth team. This birth team works for you and you are free to fire anybody at any time if they are not providing you with the service you need/desire. Hospital policy is not law. If your hospital’s policy is to not eat during labor, I promise you that you will not be arrested if you munch on an apple and cheese cubes between contractions. You don’t even have to be sneaky about it. Just do it. It’s your body. It’s your baby. It’s your birth. YOURS. If you are told during pregnancy that you are not allowed to labor in water and that is what you’d really like, tell your provider that. And if s/he is insistent that you will not be allowed to, find a new provider/hospital. If you can’t do that, petition the hospital administrators with your request and take along plenty of research and evidence for its safety. Consider driving to a provider/hospital that will allow it. Don’t give your money and business to providers and hospitals that will not support your desires and your role as a decision maker for both your and your baby’s care. Remember, as long as your baby is still on the inside, it is not too late to fire your current provider and find one that will support you. When choosing a doctor or midwife, refer to my post about choosing a maternity care provider for a list of questions to ask potential providers.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my business and my services lately. Really meditating on the quality of services I provide and want to provide and the reason for which I do this work. As I was telling a friend yesterday, I think I can safely say that all doulas begin this work because of a strong desire to serve other women during pregnancy and birth, helping them achieve safe and satisfying birth experiences and often to help push the pendulum in the direction of normal birth becoming more of the norm. We understand just how very important it is to be loved, supported, encouraged, and empowered during our births. We understand the imprint birth leaves on the heart of mothers. And we want to make a difference. We want to be world changers, pendulum pushers. _
I can’t think of a single person who started in doula work with the desire to make a lot of money doing it. Many families may see the price tag of doula services and think “Gosh, that’s a lot of money!” And I get that, $700 is a large amount of money. But, once you subtract all of our expenses of childcare, gas, website, printed material, education, certification and training, and supplies for our doula bag then divide the remainder out over the amount of hours we spend with the average family during prenatal visits, answering emails/phone calls, supporting the birth, the postpartum visit, and all of the time spent with our own lives sort of on hold during the on-call period, that large amount of money is suddenly not so large.
Doulas are constantly trying to balance their personal with their professional lives and being fairly compensated for the time and energy they give to their clients while still being affordable enough for as many families to be able to hire a doula as possible. And of course to be charging a fee comparable with other doulas in the area who have similar levels of training and experience.
A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the H.E.A.R.T. doula pledge. And it really touched my heart that was already thinking something needed to change with my practice. I am now proud to say that I am officially a HEART doula business. And with that, I have decided it was time to make a change to my services offered and their fees. A year ago, I introduced 3 packages of doula services in the hopes that I would be more accessible and affordable to more families. But, after much prayer and thought, I have decided it is now time to simplify and pear down those packages. So, as you will see by visiting my services page, I have made some changes. It was time to simplify and “get back to my roots.” The core of my doula work has been and will remain to be the things the HEART doula pledge stands for. Honest. Ethical. Accountable. Reliable. Thoughtful.
It is truly my desire to lovingly support families during pregnancy and childbirth.
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.