The Military Doula organizes volunteer birth and postpartum doula services through the Special Ops Doulas program. This program consists of professional doulas who have chosen to show their appreciation for the sacrifices military families make by freely volunteering a portion of their services to military families.

These services are made available to military families facing a separation during an upcoming birth as the result of military assignment (usually deployment). They are also available to families struggling with military related PTSD, and the expecting surviving spouses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and lost their lives in the line of duty. Rank is not a qualifying factor or consideration for these services, and Special Ops Doulas will never ask about your personal finances.

Some people have confronted me asking why military officers or higher ranking enlisted members need free services. After all, they say, they make more than most people and can certainly afford to hire a doula at her full rate. If Special Ops doulas keep offering free services, aren’t we just making it harder for working doulas to feed their families?

These questions start with the assumption that volunteers services should only go to people in harsh and destitute financial situations. Special Ops Doulas do not volunteer because we have concerns about the finances of service members. We provide this service as a way to support those who are laboring while enduring separation from a spouse who is protecting American lives. The reason we serve them is because they are willing to make the greatest sacrifice for us.

Many of the doulas who volunteer for Special Ops are military spouses, were military children, or even active duty themselves. We understand the dynamics of pregnancy and birth during deployments, often as first-hand experience. We are offering women in the same position a moment of sisterhood, a gesture of deep understanding. We are not going to add the tag line “but you should pay us something, you know, because it’s inconvenient”.

Coordinating a group of volunteers to provide these services does not take food of the family plate of working doulas. The military is a small percentage of the population as a whole, those expecting even less, and those expecting under the circumstances which we volunteer for are certainly a tiny percentage. Any doula practice that is derailed by these births was either in significant trouble anyway, or planned on using predatory practices to seek out this very small niche of vulnerable women. Certainly any doula who cannot afford to volunteer her services has no obligation to do so, hence the word volunteer.

My husband is active duty enlisted. I have often volunteered for families of significantly higher rank and financial means than my own. I never saw an officer’s wife cuddle up with a big pile of money at night to ease the loneliness, or say it was ok that her husband was missing this birth because the deployment pay was worth it.

As long as this organization exists it will be here to serve those who serve; all of them.

Marie Lewis
The Military Doula