And maybe still working out some stuff around previous-doula-org, too.
“Knowledge without mileage equals bullshit.” – Henry Rollins
The other day I was talking about raising my prices as a jewelry designer and metalsmith. Today I’m going to talk about dropping my prices as a doula and why I did it.
I took a weekend workshop a couple years ago and when it was done, I called myself a professional doula because that’s what the organization that trained me said I was. They told me I could charge the same rates as doulas who had been doing this work for decades because I was “enough.” People insisted that being a doula isn’t rocket science Really? A couple years and several trainings, re-trainings, advanced skills workshops, mentorings, seminars, births and clients later, it actually does feel a lot like rocket science at times. I’m still learning how to provide the very best support and care to my clients, work with providers, build positive relationships with other birth professionals, and grow my skills. With every birth, I learn.
When I tried to speak about this to people in my old organization, I felt shamed. Justifying my prices to people outside the organization felt horrible and I wasn’t getting hired. More shame. I cried with relief after retraining, when I gave myself permission to drop my rates.
I’m not saying that if you’re new you should charge less simply because you are new. I don’t actually care what people coming in to the doula profession charge. I care that they feel empowered to decide that for themselves without repercussions or blowback.
I care that I was gaslit and told I was devaluing myself and other women when I said that charging more felt out of integrity to me. I care that I was made to feel guilty for that.
I care that other doulas pressured me to charge more, to charge less, to work for free, to not work for free. I care that other doulas thought they had the right to say word one about my decisions. Regardless of their good intentions, it wasn’t their place or their business.
I really care that other entry level birth-workers don’t go through the same pressure and hell around this as I did.
I dropped my prices because that was the right choice for me. I still make a living wage. There’s an end game here, a point where I’d like to get to. I’m not there yet. I’ll get there. Right now I’m working towards a goal and most importantly, I feel really good about where my prices and experience meet right now. I am in harmony.
Integrity is everything.
Since when is it not okay to be entry level, to be new at something, to be on a learning curve, to have room to grow? Training has value. You leave your workshop as a new doula, one who is educated, trained and hopefully ready to gain insight, skill and experience.You don’t actually have to be an expert to have credibility and value, to be good at what you do. You just have to have integrity and be honest about who, and where, you are. Experience and mileage also have value. It’s okay to be in the process of getting those. You don’t have to “fake it till you make it.” That’s a set-up and you’ll regret it. Don’t lie to your customers, not even by omission or implication. Let them see your value, new doula, as a new doula. Learn. Get better.
It’s okay if the number we set to put value on our services changes as our experience grows. If it moves, as we move.
I think my old org was on the right track with telling new doulas not to devalue themselves as professionals with something to offer just because they are new. At the same time, the message was one that not-so-subtly devalued the impact of time, experience and mileage. Imo, that sets new doulas up for a really ugly reality check, not empowerment.
In birth work, as with anything, you get to define where your price point, learning, and experience all meet. If that’s a moving target, and it is for many of us, that’s okay. Your training and certification organization should not get to dictate what that looks like. Other people in our profession should not get to dictate that to you. You should not be bullied or pressured by anyone on this point.
Don’t worry about anyone else’s opinion.
Not even mine.