A free doula’s privilege is an underprivileged doula’s destruction.
A doula working for free or low-cost is a never-ending controversial issue in Doula Land. Those who work for free or tell other doulas their (fair wage) prices are too high should take a moment to think about how privileged they are to be able to work for less than a living wage or even less than minimum wage.
Points to consider
If you’re a doula, before you tell another doula they should lower their prices or volunteer their services maybe you should think about your position of privilege to be able to do what they can’t afford to do.
Even if someone is financially able to work for pennies, I find it outrageous for women to downgrade other women by expecting them to serve someone without fair pay. Fair wages is a human rights issue. To ask a woman to spend hours and months serving someone for little to no pay is inhumane. How would you feel if someone asked a woman to come clean their house every week for 6 months, but they weren’t willing to pay that woman? How would you feel if the people asking for a free maid were fully able to pay a fair wage? Of course, it would make their life easier to have the help. To force someone to do so is slavery. Yet people ask women to volunteer to do so as if she should be grateful to work without pay simply because she likes what she does. Why should she volunteer? It’s a luxury service to hire personal help. No one is entitled to make a doula, a woman, or any person work without pay.
Free doulas who declare their services to be free for anyone (not specifically low-income families) are destructive to doulas who don’t have the privilege of someone else paying the bills. They devalue the profession. They contribute to the gender wage gap. And they ultimately devalue women when they say “women’s work” (any female-dominated career field) doesn’t deserve to be paid a living wage.
Never tell a doula that she should volunteer. It’s degrading and destructive.
If you are privileged to be able to volunteer and you have the desire to do so, please consider putting a regular price on your packages that is a fair wage. Let it be known that you’re volunteering because that’s your heart’s desire and NOT because doulas are not worth paying. I realize there are doulas who have scholarship funds, only volunteer one birth a year, work for free for family and friends, feel convicted to help a specific person, etc…. Think about the way you communicate your monetary worth and your choice to volunteer. It’s a choice to volunteer or work for at-cost. It should not be expected of all doulas to forgo fair wages out of their love for the job.