|Massage Oil and Belly Butter|
The next products I'm working on are for babes-natural Baby Oil and Baby Powder to get away from the regular petroleum and talc products out there.
|Massage Oil and Belly Butter|
A few months ago, I wrote a post called No Free Births! It was aimed at birthworkers who hope to build a successful private practice by giving their work away. It sat quietly in its own little corner of the blogosphere, minding its own business, until a few days ago. Then… KA-BLAM! Suddenly, it has had more attention than anything else I’ve ever written.
The responses have ranged from “Right on! Sing it!” to “This heartless woman shouldn’t be a doula!” The question that has come up most often has been, “But what about the mama who needs a doula and can’t afford one?” Women who become doulas choose this path because, at the heart of who we are, we are compassionate, kind, and often generous people who really just want to help others. That’s exactly as it should be… if we aren’t in this work as an act of service, there really isn’t much point.
First, a word of caution: beware the person who is looking for “something for nothing”. Marketing research has shown repeatedly that the people who ask for discounts are more often able to afford whatever it is they are looking for… they are simply financially savvy enough to seek out “the best deal possible”. Over the years, discernment has taught me the difference between someone desiring my service because we’re a good fit, and the person seeking me out because I’m the cheapest one they’ve spoken to. (The new cars and the boat in the driveway were a good tip-off…) There is a significant difference between wanting to help others who would not otherwise have support, and giving away one’s work until the magical “someday when I start charging what I’m worth.” So, what do we, as compassionate people who also value ourselves and our work, do to provide labor support for others when fee is a genuine issue?
It helps to break down the numbers, to recognize exactly what it is we are investing into a free birth. Most doulas incur expenses for every birth we attend. In addition to training and certification, we have expenses for transportation, childcare, meals, internet for email access, cell phones for being on-call, and hospital parking, just to name a few. On average, I have a minimum of $165 in costs per birth, and that’s before I pay taxes on any income I may have. “I’ll do it for free”, when looked at this way, actually becomes “I’ll pay you to let me attend your birth.” When we’re attending births in this way, it becomes an expensive hobby more than a profession. Most doulas simply do not have the means to work in this way long-term. So, what is a doula to do?
1) Volunteer for a Non-Profit organization. Many such organizations already exist – a simple web search for “non-profit labor support” and the name of your state may turn up several results. The non-profits that exist in the area in which I live also act as a referral service for their doulas who volunteer, so that those who can afford doula care are more easily able to find the doulas who serve in their area. Non-profits have standards to determine who qualifies for care, and are able to not only provide labor support, but parenting guidance and health education to mamas in need. Through doulas volunteering for small and specific amounts of time, far more women are able to receive help than would be served by one doula alone. The same 40 hours you would contribute to one mama might instead help many! Not a non-profit in your area? Maybe it’s time to consider starting one. Non-profits generate income through grants and donations from outside sources, so that those running the show are able to receive income for the work that they do. Businesses are far more eager to donate time, money, and services to non-profit organizations, because they also benefit from the tax deduction.
|Image from CNN.com|
"Newer equals improvement" and "More is better than less" have long been effective marketing themes in American culture. But the problem is that in the case of medical technology, the results don't consistently bear that out.
While other countries have set up elaborate systems to assess new medical interventions for their cost effectiveness compared to existing practices before approving them, until recently that has not been a priority in U.S. medical care. The result is that public infatuation with newer technologies merges smoothly with the medical industry's desire to profit from providing more services.
A prime example of this problem is the failure to take advantage of midwife-led birthing centers. These have been found in the U.S. and overseas to be a safe andcost effective alternative to universal reliance on large hospitals. Freestanding birthing centers (as opposed to hospitals which refer to their maternity ward as a "birthing center") are usually directed by midwives and are affiliated with hospitals that serve as a referral site for transfers. The cost savings stem from less reliance on expensive medications and technologies, a shorter stay (mothers typically return home within 24 hours) and lower personnel costs.
While the numbers of birthing centers have increased in the last decade, less than 1 in 300 U.S. births occur in a center. How come?.... The U.S. needs to seriously rethink how we approach maternity care. The first question that needs to be addressed is: Do more tests and reliance on the biggest, most expensive hospital settings actually improve the health of mothers and babies? When they do, great. But when they don't, we need to overcome the financial, institutional and cultural barriers to use reasonable options like birthing centers.Medical technology has done wonders for our lives, especially in select, high-risk cases. But rising maternity care costs reflects the downside of our societal obsession with newer, bigger and shinier technology.
Every doula has heard it at least once…
“So, if my birth is really fast, you’ll refund part of what I paid you, right? Because then you didn’t really have to work that much.”
“How can you be ok with charging so much?”
Or, my personal favorite, “You know, what you’re doing is an act of service. It’s really special. It’s like doing The Lord’s Work. So, don’t you think it’s wrong to not do it for free?”
The money questions… it’s enough to make any doula want to crawl under a rock, or wish we could go live in a yurt, in a nudist colony, on a self-sustaining farm, so that our living expenses could be lower.
How a doula sets her fee is an unclear concept to many people who are seeking or offering birth services. On the surface, it may seem like a doula’s fee is a lot of money for what amounts to one big day of work. I offer this so that new parents and new doulas have greater clarity of what a doula’s fee really includes.
A Typical Work Week: Booking one “due date” per week is more than just one day a week at work – it’s a full-time workload. Consider this – for every client I take on, I offer up to three face-to-face prenatal meetings, unlimited phone support throughout pregnancy and the first week postpartum, and an in-home postpartum visit. This means that an average work week for me will have four to six home visits (about two hours each), six to ten hours of phone time, and eight to twelve hours of travel time. Throw in a couple of hours for recordkeeping, appointment scheduling, text and email support, and the extra hours it takes to call everyone and reschedule when I have a mama in labor. That’s typically a 37 hour work week, before I’ve spent even one minute at a birth. When all is said and done, each client, on average, has had the benefit of 30 to 42 hours of her doula’s time, and most of those hours have been when she hasn’t been in labor.
|Cheryl Senter for The New York Times|
In the United States, the use of midwives varies hugely by state and region; they can deliver babies at a birthing center, in hospitals or in homes. They generally need physician back-up in case a pregnancy has complications they cannot handle. There are few midwife births in the South and Texas, while the rate is above 15 percent in Oregon and New Mexico. In Britain and Denmark, more than two-thirds of all births are attended by a midwife.Read the entire article on the NYT here.
Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.Read the ACOG's complete article: Five Things Mothers and Physicians Should Question
|Josh Haner/The New York Times|