This past year has been one of tremendous growth for me. I think mainly this growth and transformation has come as a result of two things: my journey from hobbyist photographer to professional photographer and my 3rd son. My 3rd son, Silas, has challenged me in numerous ways and
caused forcing me to surrender to my season of life as a mother with young children. My journey as a photographer has opened my eyes to what value, worth and quality means as a business.
I have only accept 2 doula clients since his birth. That’s it – TWO! That might shock some people as typically doulas attend on average 2-5 births a month. When I was regularly attending births I was attending 2 a month and booked up to 8 months in advance. I have referred out probably nearly 24 clients that wanted to hire me to other doulas since I stopped accepting clients during my last pregnancy. Oh man it is bitter sweet!
I started meditating more on the quality of our work as a doulas….and the quantity. Doulas are passionate about birth, we have a hard time telling a woman no we can’t be at her birth. Maybe we can’t say no for numerous reasons. I wonder what are our motivations in the births we attend. Is it to add another notch to the our belt of the quantity of births we have attended? Is it truly better to attend MORE births? Does the sheer volume of attending more births make a doula better (i.e. quality)? Can a doula posses quality even if they are inexperienced (i.e. lacking quantity)? Maybe our motivation to take another doula client is to add another buck to our bank account (i.e. quantity), perhaps it is necessary to pay the bills. Maybe it’s not. Just maybe we are seeking approval or notoriety from the doula community that we believe that comes from attending many births.
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives” – William A Foster
I also can’t help but wonder what is our quality of our personal life if we are busy attending a lot of births per month. How about the quality of life for our family? The quality of life for our children? If we are too busy attending many births (i.e. quantity) we don’t have time to attend workshops & conferences to increase our value (i.e. quality) we bring to our clients to enrich their lives.
Perhaps you are a doula who has “only” attended 5 births and are slightly jealous of those doulas who are attending 50 births a year. It sounds pretty awesome to say, “This year I attended 50 births as a doula!” Seems like they are in demand and doing important work right? What we fail to see on the other side of the curtain is the exhaustion, feeling spread thin, no time for recharge, busy running about to prenatal appointments, births, postpartum appointments and even more importantly missing a pivotal event in their personal life. Perhaps they missed their son’s baseball game where he scored the home run that won the game and they weren’t there to see the immense pride on his face as his team cheered with victory. You can’t get that back. That moment is gone. You missed it.
Maybe the doula who is attending a lot of births isn’t bring quality to the births she attends either, maybe she is. Do you feel that you have to attend many births to make an impact or be effective? I personally feel I would rather attend fewer births and give 100% to my client, not 75%.
It’s important I remember that even if I can’t take a client that I refer them to another doula. I shouldn’t take them as a client merely because I had to be at their birth because I didn’t want any other doula to be at their birth. Attending births isn’t about me. It’s not my story, I’m just a part of someone else’s story. I’m witness to the story and a part of their experience.
Even if a woman is seeking to hire me as a doula and I know I’m not accepting clients I will still have a consult with them to discuss their birth options, recommend reading materials, answer questions they have and provide referrals to other doulas I think might be suitable for them. Surrendering to your season of life is not always easy, but necessary. It’s difficult to accept limitations, learn to say no and create healthy boundaries – but totally necessary.
It’s not fair to clients to take them on if I can’t fully give them 100% of me when I’m committed to many other things. Regardless I still want to empower and educate them, even if it’s only a small part in their journey.
I’ve come to understand that as a doula I don’t have to take every client that wants to hire me, I don’t have to be at everyone’s birth and I’m not the doula for everyone. However one thing I’m sure of is EVERY WOMAN NEEDS A DOULA!
What is the quality of our work? Are we acting with intention and purpose? If the quantity of our work is affecting our quality of life, is it worth it?