if doula misses birth...follow-up question posts 42 & 55 - Page 3 - Mothering Forums
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#61 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 11:47 AM
 
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So we as doulas should stop showing up prenatally then and just tell our clients we'll meet them in the hospital? See how they fare?

Doula mama, medic daddy and Tenley Harper born naturally 11/29/11 delayedvax.gifbfinfant.giffemalesling.GIFcd.gif

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#62 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jeninejessica View Post
So we as doulas should stop showing up prenatally then and just tell our clients we'll meet them in the hospital? See how they fare?
Do what you want, but I wouldn't hire a doula with the attitude you are expressing. It's a contract, an important one (to say the least). All ya gotta do is fulfill it. If you don't show up to the main event or send back up, you most certainly are not owed payment. You made a promise that you broke, you used the mother's time and resources to attend prenatal relationship-building meetings, and like a client who changes her mind has used a space you could have taken for someone else, you have taken a space she could have used for a doula who would have shown up when she was most needed. No payment is deserved, and any doula who would do that would find her reputation going downhill quickly IMO.
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#63 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 01:14 PM
 
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Do what you want, but I wouldn't hire a doula with the attitude you are expressing. It's a contract, an important one (to say the least). All ya gotta do is fulfill it. If you don't show up to the main event or send back up, you most certainly are not owed payment. You made a promise that you broke, you used the mother's time and resources to attend prenatal relationship-building meetings, and like a client who changes her mind has used a space you could have taken for someone else, you have taken a space she could have used for a doula who would have shown up when she was most needed. No payment is deserved, and any doula who would do that would find her reputation going downhill quickly IMO.
I wanna give thismama a big fat :

We ask a lot of women as doulas when we meet with for a few hours prenatally and then expect them to trust us with helping with one of the most important and most memorable experiences of their lives. If we break that trust and don't show up when we've been given a reasonable opportunity to do so then we definitely need to right the wrong any way that we can. Money is the first step. Even if it is an "honest mistake" like turning off my phone when I'm in the doctor's office and then not turning it on again, if I miss a birth entirely, then I'm going to refund her money. If it takes me more than a reasonable amount of time to respond to her call and get to her birth (like more than one hour plus travel time) then I am offering a refund or extra time or at least a pretty involved apology. Prenatal visits are important, though I disagree with the idea that doulas need to spend hours upon hours "educating" women how to have a baby. The truth is, though, that nobody hires me as a doula expecting only prenatal counseling.
Their expectation of the prenatal visits are that they are preparation for my work with them at the birth.

Beyond the agreement that I have with one person and the minimums of service that they can expect from me, there is the question of my reputation in the greater community. I want to do the kind of work that causes women to speak highly of me and not to voice disappointment or, worse, betrayal. I have been working in this field long enough to know that bad reviews hang longer in the air than good reviews. I still hear stories floating around about things certain doulas and midwives have done that I know are years old. There are probably more than 50 doulas in my area, nearly all of whom charge less than I do, yet my phone keeps on ringing. This approach (trying to make everyone as happy as possible with my work, even when I have disappointed them) seems to be working well for my overall business. I haven't had to actually refund money yet for a missed birth, but I have refunded money for a scheduled c-section when my contract explicitly said I didn't have to (I gave them back 50%). I made that decision because the family really didn't want any more services from me and I knew they would feel cheated otherwise (others in the same boat have made different choices and let me continue to help them). That couple went on to refer me to three more people, so I think I came out ok.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#64 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 02:50 PM
 
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I am in total agreement with defenstrator and thismama. I think my prenatal work with clients is of critical importance but they did not hire me to do that work, they hired me because that work is preparation for me assisting them while in labor. If I ever miss a birth, I would do anything to make it up to the woman. I was certianly return all the money and likely do free postpartum work in addition. did I do work before hand? Yes. Is my work worth something? Yes. BUT, I messed up BIG TIME if I missed the birth and that is more important than than the good I did before hand.

As a labor doula you are making a promise to be there for the labor. I don't take that promise lightly. I never turn off my phone for anything. I apologize and explain my sitaution but I sleep with my phone, take it to concerts, answer it always. The promise I have made is 24/7 access to me and I live by that. If I missed a birth due to no fault of my own, it would be different. But, if I messed up, I would of course eat every bit of the costs I had before the birth and then some just to rebuild trust.

Every woman remembers her birth for the rest of her life. She is trusting me to be a part of that memory and honoring me with the gift of seeing a baby enter the breathing world. She is trusting me to guide and comfort her, to see her naked, to see her at her most vulnerable in many ways. If I failed to show up due to my fault, I have really violated that trust and let her down. I have made my failure a part of her memory of her birth for ever. I have also potentially made the birth itself more difficutl since most women relax when I arrive, feeling more comfortable birthing since they know that they have their team in place. If she had to stress about me not being there, I might have made things harder for her.

Not only would I not take money, and hope others would not either, I would do almost anything to make it up to her.

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

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#65 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 02:53 PM
 
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To the OP:

You PP doula can do about anything you need her to do. A 3-hour session with me might look like this: wash the dishes and clean the kitchen, take out the trash, start a load of laundry, sweep and vaccum the house, hold the baby while mom takes a shower and gets dressed, change the sheets on your bed, make lunch, hold the baby while mom eats lunch, etc. If there are older kids, I can walk them to school or read them a book or help them clean their room. I can run errands or attend appointments with you. I can basically help in any way that you need help. Sometimes this is holding a baby while you nap. Sometimes it is cooking dinner to be heated up at the end of the day when I am no longer there. I say enjoy the luxury of having a postpartum doula! It should be fabulous!

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

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#66 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 05:04 PM
 
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ITA with BrooklynDoula and Defenestrator. I think the reason I find the 'doula at fault = fee still due' aspect of this discussion so disturbing is that I just gave birth not quite 5 weeks ago and my doula was an indispensable part of my birth experience. I feel alarmed to think that when I called her at 4am because I was alone with my daughter and contrax were getting more intense than I could handle on my own, she may have just not answered her phone! Like, holy crap! And then expected payment, coz oh well prenatal education and alla that. Prenatal classes are available, and so are books. Kwim? A birth doula is an in the flesh support person for labour. That is the job, IMO. And it's damn important to show up and do it!
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#67 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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Oh I don't mean to say that it's not a HUGE deal if the doula does not show up, it is. Most doulas have backup though, and if one doesn't, I'm assuming the mother knows that ahead of time, and the assumption is that she has agreed to that (or she would have found another doula). I don't think not answering her phone is a vlid reason, nor do I know ANY doulas that would do that. We're talking about a doula being sick, in an accident, or some other scenerio where she absolutely can not get to you- not just that she doesn't feel like it or didn't answer her phone in time.

I don't think the whole fee should be paid, and I'm pretty sure I explained that? Maybe not. But I do feel that work that was done should be paid for.

I'm not saying that doula shouldn't get down on her knees and grovel for forgiveness, and offer to do postpartum or SOMETHING to make up for it. I think she should, but I also think that in an unavoidable scenerio, she still deserves to be paid for what she did.

Again- if she just didn't show up because she was tired, etc, didn't feel like answering phone, then yes, feel free to tar and feather her.

Doula mama, medic daddy and Tenley Harper born naturally 11/29/11 delayedvax.gifbfinfant.giffemalesling.GIFcd.gif

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#68 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jeninejessica View Post
Oh I don't mean to say that it's not a HUGE deal if the doula does not show up, it is. Most doulas have backup though, and if one doesn't, I'm assuming the mother knows that ahead of time, and the assumption is that she has agreed to that (or she would have found another doula). I don't think not answering her phone is a vlid reason, nor do I know ANY doulas that would do that. We're talking about a doula being sick, in an accident, or some other scenerio where she absolutely can not get to you- not just that she doesn't feel like it or didn't answer her phone in time.

I don't think the whole fee should be paid, and I'm pretty sure I explained that? Maybe not. But I do feel that work that was done should be paid for.

I'm not saying that doula shouldn't get down on her knees and grovel for forgiveness, and offer to do postpartum or SOMETHING to make up for it. I think she should, but I also think that in an unavoidable scenerio, she still deserves to be paid for what she did.

Again- if she just didn't show up because she was tired, etc, didn't feel like answering phone, then yes, feel free to tar and feather her.

Yep, exactly.
And my additional prenatal visits beyond the first aren't about me, they're about the clients. What do you really want to learn in order to feel as prepared as possible for your birth.

It's about them. They direct what will be taught or reviewed or practiced, not me. A huge part of why people hire me is what I have to offer prenatally.

I deserve to be, and because of how my fees are set up, will be compensated for my prenatal work, that's the non-refundable deposit.

April :
Mom, Wife, Doula, CBE
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#69 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 08:06 PM
 
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If I missed a birth because of something that was my fault, I'd give a refund. Even with doing the prenatal appointments, I would feel very guilty keeping their money if I missed their birth because I didn't hear my phone or something. I would hope that giving them a refund in full would do something to preserve my reputation if such a thing occured.

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#70 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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I would do these things for you as postpartum doula:
I could cook, do laundry, make the beds, help with the other kids, food shop, run errands, tidy up, Unpack boxes with you, basically have you sit on the sofa while i was there so you can nurse your new baby or have you go take a shower or a nap and I can care for the kids.
That sounds great! I think that's all stuff even an experienced mom would enjoy.
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#71 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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So no opinions on the fact that when the OP called her doula she didn't answer her phone, and when her DH called the second time she was too far away and couldn't make it? But offers PP doula care instead?

Really?

I'm sorta with TM on this one. She didn't answer the OP's original call when she was in labor. For what ever reason. IMO the fact that a follow up call was later required by the husband makes her lack of appearance her -the doula's- own fault. While I might appreciate the after care offer, it's not what I hired a BIRTH doula for.

It's lonely being the only XX in a house of XYs.
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#72 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 09:31 PM
 
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So no opinions on the fact that when the OP called her doula she didn't answer her phone, and when her DH called the second time she was too far away and couldn't make it? But offers PP doula care instead?

Really?
There's not enough info.

How long between the two calls?

Why was the doula too far away?

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#73 of 78 Old 06-08-2008, 11:38 PM
 
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If a doctor or midwife misses a birth and/or client gets backup or the birth is missed altogether because birth was too quick the pregnant woman does not negotiate price because the primary caregiver 'missed' the birth or sent backup.

I guess we can argue the logistics of this forever but if the Doula is a professional with backup payment is due. Again, unless this was discussed beforehand.
If the Doula doesn't have backup and misses the birth I would assume that would be talked about with the client beforehand re. payment.
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#74 of 78 Old 06-09-2008, 09:58 AM
 
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ITA with BrooklynDoula and Defenestrator. I think the reason I find the 'doula at fault = fee still due' aspect of this discussion so disturbing is that I just gave birth not quite 5 weeks ago and my doula was an indispensable part of my birth experience.
if the doula is at fault through some kind of weird thing like like she turned off her phone or couldn't do it and didn't provide back-up, then I agree, it's unreasonable and unprofessional to accept payment.

It is part of my agreement with families that I will have a back-up who will be there in case I can't be. I've never used back-up, but it's there.

R~mama to 3

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#75 of 78 Old 06-09-2008, 10:22 AM
 
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I also wanted to add that here there are hospital based doulas in a few of the hospitals. They just show up for the birth, you don't hire them ahead of time, they work on shifts and, the big one for some people, they are free. And people still hire private doulas because of the relationship and prenatal care. I do a lot of work in the time before and after a birth, and yes, not making a birth is BAD, and missing it through my own fault is AWFUL (and has never happened), but it is not all of the work I do, and I'm surprised that there are people who think I shouldn't get paid for my time.

I just can't imagine this happening to me. Missing a birth because my phone is off? I don't turn off my phone. Plus, when people hire me, they get my home phone, my cell phone, my email, and all that info for my back-up. So if (big if) they couldn't get ahold of me, they could call her.

We also have a big organization of doulas here. I have a list with about 75 other doulas. We tell families, when you hire a doula on this list, everyone else is potential back-up. There was one time a doula friend of mine got a call from someone who couldn't find her doula (turns out she was in the ER). My friend went to the birth, even though she wasn't the official back-up.

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#76 of 78 Old 06-09-2008, 10:24 AM
 
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ignore this one, I couldn't figure out how to change my subscription settings for just this thread with out posting. Getting this one at the end of the day just isn't working.

R~mama to 3

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#77 of 78 Old 06-11-2008, 01:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by BrooklynDoula View Post
To the OP:

You PP doula can do about anything you need her to do. A 3-hour session with me might look like this: wash the dishes and clean the kitchen, take out the trash, start a load of laundry, sweep and vaccum the house, hold the baby while mom takes a shower and gets dressed, change the sheets on your bed, make lunch, hold the baby while mom eats lunch, etc. If there are older kids, I can walk them to school or read them a book or help them clean their room. I can run errands or attend appointments with you. I can basically help in any way that you need help. Sometimes this is holding a baby while you nap. Sometimes it is cooking dinner to be heated up at the end of the day when I am no longer there. I say enjoy the luxury of having a postpartum doula! It should be fabulous!
Thank you! That's really helpful. I'm VERY not good at asking for help and would NEVER ask someone to do these things and so knowing that's what you would expect I can think about asking for it. it would be nice.
Thanks!

Mom to 11 y.o. lawyer, 9 y.o. actor, and 4 y.o. pilot. I believe 'em on those, too!

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#78 of 78 Old 06-11-2008, 09:34 AM
 
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Thank you! That's really helpful. I'm VERY not good at asking for help and would NEVER ask someone to do these things and so knowing that's what you would expect I can think about asking for it. it would be nice.
Thanks!
I absolutely expect to do all of these things - in fact I even enjoy doing them! I like helping women with new babies and so I feel good when it seems I have been useful. Please do ask her for help and know that she wants to give back to you and your family. Enjoy it!

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

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