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#1 of 14 Old 05-29-2008, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do your volunteer, why or why not?

I took a long hiatis from birth attending (9months!?) because I have had alot going on at home.

Now that I am ready again I decided to start out with a few volunteer births. I've actually never volunteered before, so I wanted to get some opionion of the pors and cons of this

Carrie, The Birthteacher CCE and Doula, real mom to five; and womb-mom to G. born at 23w by emergency C. 12/09
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#2 of 14 Old 05-29-2008, 07:54 PM
 
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I have volunteered for a friend and also once for someone who quite clearly had no economic means to pay but really wanted a homebirth. Otherwise, I would always charge at least costs so you are not lossing money on it. I think lossing money on birth work encourages burn out and really feel that doulas should be paid for their work whenever possible. Sometimes a person truely cannot afford to pay you or has nothing to barter and then a volunteer situation is an amazing gift. Welcome back

Megan Davidson, Labor & Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Anthropologist, Mom to August (9) and Clay (4), Partner to Shawn.

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#3 of 14 Old 05-30-2008, 10:14 AM
 
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Hello, I agree with Brooklyn Doula.

Operation Special Delivery has a volunteer program for women whose soldiers will be overseas at the estimated time of birth. That gives intrinsic motivation to many doulas.

Happy doula'ing
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#4 of 14 Old 05-30-2008, 10:27 AM
 
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I'm a postpartum doula (and doula service owner) a trained LC and CBE.

I have volunteered whenever called at a transitional homeless shelter for pregnant and postpartum teenage girls. Hard work emotionally and on every level but it was my absolute pleasure to work with these girls.

I DO NOT encourage doulas volunteering for private clients unless you are aware of the situation you're getting into and will find it acceptable to be giving of your knowledge, time and hard work for free or deeply reduced rate to that family.

I have been burned and felt taken advantage of and my services devalued and so have the doulas in my service and experienced labor doula friends who thought they were volunteering for a family in need to find out the family is financially well off (clearly much wealthier then me or the other doulas this has happened to) the client who lives in luxury doorman buildings and have only the hippest and swellest baby stuff and the clients have professional high paying careers and they wanted a doula for free or deeply reduced fee!

They got a doula for free or "very cheap", then they tell all their friends to call me, I would get calls from people asking for the same "cheap" price I charged their friends and complain that they want that price!

I'm a sincerely generous person and doula I will help anyone with breastfeeding. But I hate when I feel like a sucker and taken advantage of.

Sadly some people have the audacity to take advantage of the kindness of doulas and don't value our work. I have learned to very carefully screen calls when some one asks for a reduced rate and protect the interest of the doulas who work in my service.

.
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#5 of 14 Old 05-30-2008, 11:47 AM
 
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Only for OSD.

The lowest I go down on my fee is to $100. That is to help cover childcare expenses if I need it to go to their birth.

I do barter though.
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#6 of 14 Old 05-30-2008, 12:13 PM
 
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I do a lot of volunteer work right now, and have been for a while to build up experience.
Our clients are screened for need, and only people who seriously need a doula and cannot pay a thing will are refered. They are refered by the diet despensary(give out food stamps), their doctors or other organizations around the community. I work mostly with refugees from africa, or elsewhere.
My most recent clients were escaping an absusive arranged marriage with a first cousin, and another whos husband was a political prisoner in the ivory coast and had arrived here two weeks before her birth, alone, escapping enprisonment herself.
So not light cases.. Hard work, hard births. So rewarding.
I would not just do freebie births for whomever. Your work is not valued then.
If there is some sort of organization who can screen clients for need I recommend that.
I went for a postpartum visit yesterday and the woman cried with joy because she couldnt believe that someone cared enough for her to visit her... made me cry too.
Anyways I love volunteer births. They are incredible, and they sometimes make the other ones seem super easy. They have also exposed me to so many cultures, and traditions surrounding birth, that are very interesting.
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#7 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 02:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Sage.Naissance View Post
I do a lot of volunteer work right now, and have been for a while to build up experience.
Our clients are screened for need, and only people who seriously need a doula and cannot pay a thing will are refered. They are refered by the diet despensary(give out food stamps), their doctors or other organizations around the community. I work mostly with refugees from africa, or elsewhere.
My most recent clients were escaping an absusive arranged marriage with a first cousin, and another whos husband was a political prisoner in the ivory coast and had arrived here two weeks before her birth, alone, escapping enprisonment herself.
So not light cases.. Hard work, hard births. So rewarding.
I would not just do freebie births for whomever. Your work is not valued then.
If there is some sort of organization who can screen clients for need I recommend that.
I went for a postpartum visit yesterday and the woman cried with joy because she couldnt believe that someone cared enough for her to visit her... made me cry too.
Anyways I love volunteer births. They are incredible, and they sometimes make the other ones seem super easy. They have also exposed me to so many cultures, and traditions surrounding birth, that are very interesting.

this is very close to what I am searching for. An organization, not a cheap doula.

any others that give of their heart (without financial reimbursement)?

Carrie, The Birthteacher CCE and Doula, real mom to five; and womb-mom to G. born at 23w by emergency C. 12/09
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#8 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 02:45 AM
 
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I was talking to some doulas in my area about this recently. Many of them had offered free services to get their initial requirements. some had continued to do so when a situation presented itself that seemed to merit it. In general everyone agreed that the client should pay "something". The clients who paid for the service were more appreciative, more open to the process and willing to "team up" with the doula, and more respectful. Clients who paid nothing were more likely to treat the doula as their friend/slave (depending on the doula I was talking to), for example: calling multiple times a day, refusing to let the doula off the phone, multiple calls to have the doula come over because they were in labor(everyday for a week), etc- They all felt there was something about paying for the service helped the client realize the doula isn't there to be your best friend, spouse, mother . . . .they are there to provide you with a service and you should only expect them to provide that service. One of the doulas even said "Even if it's only $25 it changes things."

I think going through an organization like a battered women's shelter, a homeless shelter, or a crisis pregnancy center is an excellent way to find clients that are truly in need of your help. Maybe you offer the opportunity to full price clients to contribute to a "scholarship fund" for your clients from _____________(which ever organization you choose). You could then say to those clients I offer my services to the women here for $XX if they can't afford it they could earn a scholarship by doing volunteer work for the organization that introduced you.
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#9 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 03:23 AM
 
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I rarely do free births. I mostly do drastically reduced-fee births. Most of the people I work with are very low income and can barely afford hospital charges. I just ask that they help me cover childcare and gas money if they can. I've never not been given something.

If someone pays just a little something, they take value in it.

Missionary, birth-worker, midwifery student
Mama to love.gif DD (9yr), DS luxlove.gif (3yr), & 2twins.gif UC twin DDs (5yr)

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#10 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rockies5 View Post
this is very close to what I am searching for. An organization, not a cheap doula.any others that give of their heart (without financial reimbursement)?
I think all doulas find themselves with opportunities to give of themselves without financial consideration or reimbursement.

I found out about the homeless pregnant teen shelter from a childbirth educator friend who asked if i would be interested in helping.

Look for social service agencies and non profit organizations in your area that work with pregnant teens, pregnant homeless, pregnant new immigrants etc.

The first call is to your local public hospital childbirth programs they usually know the organizations in your area that can use volunteers.


In NYC we have a public hospital (Bellevue hosp) two labor doulas created a volunteer labor doula program for women on medicaid who birth at the birth center in that hosptial (most are very poor chinese immigrants). It is now set up for other doulas to easily give and volunteer.

So you can also create an oppuntity for yourself to help like these two doulas did if you can not find one already existing in your area.
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#11 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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Clients who paid nothing were more likely to treat the doula as their friend/slave
I haven't had this problem. The people who I work for cannot afford $25 dollars, in general. I just had to arrange transport home for a woman because she couldnt afford a cab and had no one to transport her. However fortunately my organization is starting to have the funds to basically reimburse our expenses.
However the only clients who receive free services for me live off food stamps, mostly in shelters, or subsidized housing. I dont work on a sliding scale just because I do all of these free births. I would be interested in doing a 'sponsor a mum' fundraising type thing, where other clients could pay for another womans care.

Anyways as for the problem mentioned above, I am just as professional with my volunteer clients, and am sure to lay out the same guidelines as I do for non volunteer clients. Generally volunteer clients are more high maintenance, but that is generally because they are alone, they are poor, they are new to the country, they dont speak much english, etc. I have never felt like an unpaid client has taken advantage of me, I find they appreciate my services that much more because so few of them have had that special kind of care that a doula provides.
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#12 of 14 Old 06-02-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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I normally do one or two pro-bono births a year. My last pro-bono was with Operation Special Delivery & was really awesome. Mom birthed at 34w 1 day & baby was so healthy!!

I really can't afford to do too many free births since being with these mommas takes up alot of time.

A doula who married a cop & became a mama to 3 boys: G 12/22/00, my rainbow baby B 2/2/07 and L 2/10/10 my CBA2V baby, waiting for my little caboose late February 2013 & always remembering my two angels 2006 & 2012.

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#13 of 14 Old 06-04-2008, 05:48 PM
 
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I have volunteered in the past - actually did a lot of volunteer births, but ended up cutting way back. At this point I will volunteer if I see there is a real need and if I am not busy (at this immediate moment I am expecting so am not taking any volunteer births).

I have to agree with what some others have said - volunteering can be a great thing, but it can also snowball out of control. When I first started I was volunteering at teen births to help get experience and births in and it snowballed so bad. One friend told another and another and it got so bad that I wasn't have any paid clients. Word got around that I would do all the births for free and so even people who could afford it tried to get it cheaper.

In some situations I felt very taken advantage of especially when I would walk into someone's house and their house was nicer then mine - they had flat screen t.v.s, etc. I know that doesn't always mean anything, but when I have a family of 9 (at the time) and justifying why I was doing a birth for free for people who had so much it got very hard.

Plus for me it was very hard not giving in to hard luck stories, so I have really tried to limit the assistance I give, and depending on what is going on in my own life have at times limited it to only one or two pro bono births a year. I would rather significantly lower my fee if there is a true need then to do the birth completely for free.
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#14 of 14 Old 06-05-2008, 03:59 AM
 
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I agree with a small payment or barter if at all appropriate. I do volunteer births, many through a local placement agency, but I have found the totally free to the client births (the agency does have some reimbursement for us) are the ones most likely to 1- not call in labor and leave you hanging "on call" to never attend a birth... which is beyond frustrating to put off vacation or whatnot just to find out 2 weeks late that they had the baby, or not listen to any of your information since they tend to see you as less of a professional. I have been a doula and an apprentice for many years, and I still have those 'volunteer' families think of me as 'just a student looking for certification' rather then a professional who beleives everyone deserves a doula regardless of income/ability to pay. Anyway, I finally had to agree with another doula friend, that those who worked or paid something-even by cooking me dinner or mowing my grass, were more likely to value my services. So that is what I try for these days.
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