It’s hard to understand what the motivations are, but there’s a time wasting scam that’s been running around the doula world for about 25 years and counting. The scammers are not out to get your money, they are out to waste your time and possibly lure you into a graphic conversation for their own pleasure.
It starts like this: You get an email or a chat request from a mom who claims to be in labor. Often “she” claims to be alone and just waiting for her birth team. Sometimes she’s somewhere remote where it will take HOURS for help to arrive and “she” wants you to remain on the computer with her. I’ve had two messages in my career, one was a woman in Alaska claiming to be waiting for a bush plane to take her to the hospital, one was a woman who claimed she lived in the sand dunes of the Sahara and her midwife was coming by camel…
Names and emails “she” has used:
- Melissa Ba
(If you hear of another, please let me know so I can add it to this list so that it can be found online if she tries it again.)
If you continue the conversation, often it will become more and more graphic as time goes on. They’ll describe things in detail. Once a doula was asked for how to do nipple and clitoral stimulation to encourage progress. Often if you ask to call, use Skype or Facetime, etc. they immediately drop all contact. This is because they are not really a pregnant woman, and probably not even a woman at all… You can read one doula’s transcript of the conversation here – thankfully this one did not go too far.
These people are preying on the doula’s willingness to help, but they are not women who need labor support. (They might very well need *other* kinds of help for whatever drives them to do this…)
There’s also a variation on this where they want to chat with you about circumcision, those conversations get VERY graphic very quickly, and they start wanting you to exchange pictures with them. I’m aware of one doula and strident intactivist who got sucked into a conversation with a “new dad” who was trying to decide. He got her to send him pictures from the internet of what an adult circumcised and intact penis look like, then sent her pictures of his own penis from all angles, asking her what she thought of his penis! He continued to message her for a few days after she stopped responding.
Don’t let your passion for helping women get you suckered into a waste of time. If someone not your client contacts you for online labor support, my advice would be to do one of these things:
- Send them an invoice and contract for online labor support – at least half your usual fee.
- Insist on a video chat – use Google Hangouts, Skype, or Facetime.
- Tell them to contact their care provider and disengage
- Completely ignore it