I remember when I was a new doula, the idea of asking someone for what I thought was a significant (although reasonable) amount of money for my services gave me the trots. My very first client was a friend who insisted on paying me $300 which I really appreciated but did not feel I deserved. I tried hard to say no because I felt guilty taking her money when she was letting me be at her birth..... wait a second... did you catch that? I felt guilty for asking for money for my services because this client was doing me a favor by allowing me at her birth. Was she the one providing the service, or was I?
If we don't charge for our services, whether you get paid in cookies, yard work, web design, or greenbacks, we can set up a really funky dynamic between client and doula. I'm not saying it happens every time, what I'm speaking specifically about is new doulas who do not yet (sometimes) know their value - who are afraid to ask for what they have a right to receive - who do not trust that what they offer is worth something significant. We carry this energy into the birth space with us and sometimes the dynamic that happens is that the doula is not a trusted guide, she is a guest in the space. She brings a subservient energy to the space that is not the same as being in service to the client, it is more of a 'thankyousomuch for letting me be here I'll try not to disturb you too much' energy. Asking for money takes the 'favor' out of it, it allows for emotional distance without the distraction of the money issue hanging around in the back of our minds. We're more adventurous in our solutions and we speak up more when the energy is balanced, and who benefits? You and the family, both!
Women in birth need to feel their support system is intact, strong, and without conflict. If we are conflicted (and maybe not consciously, maybe it's purely emotional) about our role in that space, the mother will be too. She will not call on our counsel, or trust what we have to say if we do not demonstrate confidence.