As A Doula, I Always Get Asked If I Want Kids—Here’s Why That’s a Complex Question

A doula shares how supporting women through hundreds of births has made family planning a more complicated discussion.

“Do you want kids?”

I’m not sure there’s a week that goes by where I don’t get asked this question. And honestly, I really don’t mind being asked. For most of my adult life, I’ve felt a deep, knowing sense that I indeed do want children. But the truth is, I also love not having kids. 

As I grow older, answering the question “Do you want kids?” has become harder.

It wasn’t always this way. But something shifted for me as I inched into my 30s and continued to witness more and more variety of birth outcomes through my clients experiences. The initial instinct evolved into critical thinking around why I wanted my own children. And could I envision my own experience anymore after witnessing so many others?

I’ve been a doula for nearly a decade. And truthfully, I don’t know many birth workers who have attended as many births for as long as I have—and then decided to start a family. As far as I know, it’s a smaller club in general. 

Supporting families through the journey from pregnancy to postpartum has been more than just a job—it’s my calling.

Before becoming a doula, I struggled to find a career that felt right. Doula work validated skills that had never been recognized in other jobs or potential career paths. It drew on my innate abilities to emotionally attune, facilitate communication to promote advocacy, build relationships and cultivate community. With or without my own experience in childbirth, it was clear that this job aligned perfectly with who I am as a person.

The question from potential clients of whether or not I wanted kids came up early on—when I was in my early 20s. And I know for a fact that I was not hired many times over because I hadn’t given birth myself. It was somewhat of a known thing that doulas who hadn’t given birth themselves sometimes have a harder time getting started, due to a cultural belief that my care would be lesser because I hadn’t experienced childbirth personally.

While I understand how one’s own experience in childbirth can enhance their ability to relate to and serve clients effectively as a doula, I’ve greatly valued the fact that I don’t bring my own experience into my clients’ journeys. It has always felt like a clear and helpful boundary, allowing me to support my clients—without being personally triggered. After all, their birth is about them and their family, not about me and my experiences. 

I’m not sure if clients recognize the capacity and perks that a childless doula brings to the table. For every doula client I commit to supporting, I am on call 24/7 for five weeks of their due-date window. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I have to be sure that I can drop everything and support my client when needed. Doing this without juggling the responsibility of parenting is hard enough. 

The burnout rate is incredibly high for doulas; most don’t practice beyond three to four years at most. I’ve witnessed many other doulas and birth workers with kids struggle to balance their personal and professional responsibilities, and it wasn’t pretty—and often sacrificing themselves in the process. 

While these birthworkers are heroes, a lot of their sacrifices and hustle go unnoticed and unacknowledged. And martyrdom in birthwork is pervasive.

Human care work in general is an overworked, underpaid field in the U.S.—and that does not exclude doula work.

As I’ve progressed in my career and continued witnessing the realities of pregnancy, birth and parenthood, the idea of choosing to go through the process myself began to feel abstract and distant. That sense of “knowing” I wanted kids started to feel more complex.

Even with these thoughts and feelings stirring, I continue attending births. Holding a client’s hips with all my strength while they roared through the surge of a contraction. Pulling all-nighters, watching someone labor stoically while my client finally got a nap after an epidural. Pouring myself into a client’s eyes while they breathed through the pressure of a baby being pulled from their belly in the OR.

And yet, the question kept coming. “Do you want kids?” Again, I get it. It’s like asking a car salesman if he likes cars. Getting asked this question so much, I also wonder if people are ever really wanting a truthful response.

Or are they ready for a truthful response?

Are they ready to hear that after attending over 300 births, the idea of being pregnant myself makes me nauseous?

Do they want to hear about the traumatic births I’ve witnessed that continue to haunt me?

What if I have been trying to get pregnant and experiencing fertility struggles?

What if I couldn’t have my own children for a variety of reasons?

I am indeed in a place where I’m trying to create the space and capacity in my physical and emotional body, life and career to consider starting a family in the next couple of years. And I do feel open to all of the ways that my own experience in conception, pregnancy, birth, and parenthood will ultimately change and evolve me in this work. 

But the answer to the question “Do I want kids?” That has felt like the most honest reply is that right now, I really love not having kids. And I’m grateful for the space that provides me in my life and career to show up for my community in such a deep way.

Being in my 30s has offered a moment of stability and grounding in my life and career that I’ve hard earned. And pausing in the present moment of my life’s circumstances feels necessary. Because I have a lot of clearing to do emotionally and physically to consider the idea of being a parent. And I know all too well that I won’t have the same capacity I have now to do this self reflective work when I become a parent. 

May we all consider the complexity of asking any woman of child bearing age “Do you want kids?” And maybe consider if you have the time for an authentic and true response. 

Cheers to all the other childless birth workers, aunties and folks navigating the wild complexity of being a uterine-bodied person in this world. You are more than your answer to the kids question—and don’t allow anyone (including yourself) to lead you to believe you’re less in any way. You’re enough right where you are, right now.


Photos By (In Order): Hanna Hill, Maggie Shackelford, Hanna Hill and Helen Joy.


  • Roxy Robbins

    Roxy is a New York native who's loved calling Asheville, NC her home for more than a decade. Roxy is driven, creative, compassionate and finds her fulfillment and greatest purpose in serving her community and supporting expecting families. She is the co-founder of Flow of Life. Flow of Life offers doula trainings, prenatal yoga teacher trainings, prenatal/postnatal yoga classes, embodied childbirth education and doula services. She combines her powers as an experienced doula, lamaze childbirth educator, perinatal yoga teacher/trainer and bodyworker to provide birthing families comprehensive support. Over the course of her doula career, she has had the privilege of supporting hundreds of families through the birthing process.

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