There has been a big stir in the doula community about the concept of 12-hour language found in our contracts. Some doulas feel like this puts unnecessary pressure on birthing individuals. Others quietly point out that just as other professionals charge for their time, so must we. In order to make our profession sustainable, we must charge a living wage. We must ensure that we are able to adequately care for both our clients and ourselves. If we run ourselves ragged by attending long births without adequate compensation or backup, there will be burn out. Birthing individuals don’t get the best of us or what we have to offer.
Did you know that the average business life-span of a doula is only 2 years? 2 years?!?! Why do you think that is? I speculate that the reason is because doulas do not value themselves enough to charge their worth, they work longer hours for zero additional compensation, and they continue supporting clients long after they have run out of energy and their brains are in a mental fog. It it unfair to the doulas themselves, unfair to their clients, and unfair to our profession. These doulas are doing a huge dis-service to their clients simply by being unwilling to recognize their worth and organize their contracts in such a way to reflect that worth.
Our contract’s 12-hour language is for the protection of our doulas, our clients, and our profession. This language ensures that our doulas are fairly compensated. It ensures our clients have doulas attending their births who are awake, alert, and able to give of their best selves. Sometimes this means that one doula switches out for another, but because of our team concept, our clients are familiar and comfortable with the doula who comes in to support them. They never have to worry about someone they don’t know walking into the intimacy of their birthing environment (not someone from this agency anyways). In addition, the 12-hour language in our contract allows for our profession to be sustainable. It allows our doulas to be fairly compensated for their time and talents.
Randy Patterson, of ProDoula, is the first person who introduced this language to the birth community. Her concept flipped many doulas’ worlds upside down. She penned a fantastic blog post to help others better understand the 12-hour language found in her contracts. You can read that post here.