I feel in my heart that I would like to volunteer my services to mothers in need of a doula before I become fully certified. However, I have been told that I will not be as valued if I do not charge. I would hope that there are plenty of mothers who would value my time and effort in helping them through labor and birth even though they are not paying for my services. I feel I am valuable. I feel as if I am offering a gift to mothers who otherwise may not be able to have a doula during this short time I am working toward certification. Yes, they are blessing me with the honor to attend their births and witnessing their new little baby into the world. Yes, I am gaining valuable experience. But I am providing an invaluable service to mothers and their partners. For free. Or at least, I am hoping to.
Here are a few bumps in the road I have encountered so far, and they make me sad.
#1. People have contacted me about doula services, and I never hear from them again. That is fine, understandable and expected. How many times do I call about services and never use said services? How many times do I enter a store and never need help or buy anything?
#2. People have contacted me about doula services. We schedule a consultation, they never confirm the time/location, and I never hear from them again. I can understand contacting me to find out information. I can understand scheduling a consultation and then changing your mind. Maybe you found another doula. Great! I am so glad you will have a doula at your birth. Maybe something came up. Fine! Reschedule. Maybe you are just plain not interested and wish you would have never contacted me in the first place. Unfortunately, that too, is understandable and expected. However, please use common courtesy and notify of me that you are no longer interested in my services. You do not even have to explain why, though a reason would be nice. That way I don't go around wondering if I had a booger in my nose or something.
#3. People have contacted me about doula services. We schedule and confirm the time/location of the consultation. I arrive and am stood up. Shame shame on them!!!! If I call AND email to ask if they are okay and to ask what happened and they pretend like they do not know me and/or NEVER return my calls/emails, they are being very rude indeed. This is simply put, extreme discourtesy. I may be a doula. I may be volunteering my services. But I am a person and a mom. My time is important as well. I value my time, which is why I do not understand why I would not be valued just because I was offering my time for free. It should be considered a precious gift. I know I would consider it a HUGE treasure if someone volunteered their time, heart and energy to be MY doula!
I am well aware that this is only the beginning when it comes to the challenges I will encounter as a doula. There will be many! What about the mother who does not call me when she goes into labor? What about the family who did not notify their care provider they hired a doula? What about the family that repeatedly misses appointments? What about the mother that does not prepare and take responsibility for her birth? What about a flat tire on the way to a birth?
I have no CLUE the potential challenges I will face, but when it comes to common courtesy, please show it!