|Posted by Bethany McCarey-Hammond on March 31, 2015 at 2:15 PM|
How to Pay for a Doula
One of the first questions I get asked when speaking to an interested couple is; “How much does it cost?” To some people, the cost of a doula is totally doable, but for others, the cost is something that they feel is out of their reach. There are a couple of creative ways to pay your doula. But, before we dive into those ideas, let’s explore what goes into the cost of a doula.
• I am on call 24/7 approximately 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your Estimated Due Date. I will drop everything to be with a mom during their labor. That means that if I am at one of my child’s baseball games, on a date with my husband, or at a family get together, I will leave them to go to a laboring mom. This also means that I don’t travel further than a few minutes away or be more than a few feet from my phone. I may need to reschedule appointments and have even missed holidays; since babies don’t follow any calendars, I am on their time.
• The training and education I put into being a doula can add up. I am currently enrolled in 3 certification programs so that I can better assist my doula moms. I also have yearly dues and CEU courses that I need to do because I am also a Certified HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator. In order to stay up-to-date with the most current research and education, I buy books and am always educating myself.
• The total hours in put in, prenatally, with a couple varies between 5-10 hours. I do my absolute best to answer all texts, phone calls, and emails as they come in so that nobody is waiting for a response to a question.
• The average time spent with a couple in labor also varies. This is time away from my family and potentially time that we need to find a sitter while my husband is working. The shortest time I have been with a mom in labor was 10 hours, while the longest was 72. This means that I can make as low at $8 an hour in some circumstances, less than minimum wage. The average car mechanic charges $60 an hour.
• That sitter I just mentioned? I pay $10-$15 an hour depending on if she has 1 or 4 of my children.
• There is also a physical toll of missed sleep, missed meals, soreness from massaging/supporting the laboring mom, and even engorgement sometimes from being away from my nursing toddler.
• The postpartum support that I give; answering messages about breastfeeding and baby care. I will answer my phone at 2am to a mom having difficulty breastfeeding. This may be after 24+ hours of assisting her in labor.
• My experience: As of today, I have assisted in the birth of 42 babies! I have grown so much over the years and am still growing. Every birth teaches me something new that will help the next mom. I hope to never stop growing and learning. I have worked with most of the care providers between Corning and Sayre and have great relationships with them. I offer a unique perspective and insight into each birth because of my experiences.
I haven’t met a mom yet that has regretted hiring a doula, but have met many that have regretted not hiring one. The birth of this baby only happens once. I feel sad when I talk to moms and hear “ I wish I had known about you when I had my baby!” You will always remember how you were treated during labor and how you felt.
So, to get back to the question at hand…How to pay for a doula?
Broken down, my services cost approximately $16.25/week or $65/month for an average length of pregnancy. For some parents, this is very doable. But for some others, it is more difficult. I don’t ever want money to be a deciding factor when it comes to having me at a birth. When deciding whether or not you can afford a doula, consider these ideas in addition to any payment you can afford:
I already break it up into 2 payments to try and make the cost more feasible. But for some, more payments are needed. Most doulas would be open to making an arrangement that works for everybody.
You may have a skill or a service that I am interested in. I have traded my services for photography sessions, chiropractic care and even maple syrup! Other ideas may include, but are not limited to:
Have something you think I may be interested in? Try me! You never know what I might be looking for.
Register as a baby shower/blessingway gift
Put some thought into what you will need for the baby, and I mean really need. Typical shower gifts include receiving blankets, more clothes than the baby will ever need, a diaper genie, a bottle warmer, wipes warmer…the list can go on and on. While some of these things come in handy, they aren’t all necessities. Having the birth you desire, in my opinion, is a necessity. A doula can make a huge difference in assisting you in getting the birth you desire and deserve. All baby really needs in a happy mom, food, and shelter. So, consider putting gift certificates for doula services on your registry. A popular website to use is http://babyli.st
Check with your insurance company
I offer receipts for both childbirth classes and doula services for people who would like to submit to their insurance providers for partial reimbursement. Insurance is complicated and I cannot claim to fully understand my own policy, much less guarantee what your insurance provider may offer you. Some policies will not cover education costs or doula services; however, I do encourage you to call, ask questions, ask your medical provider’s assistance, call again, and submit that receipt. Sometimes it works! I’m happy to complete paperwork when I receive additional information request forms from insurance companies.
Raise money by selling things
We all have items laying around collecting dust. Why not sell them to put into a fund for a doula?
Save money by not spending
Cut back on expenses to help put into your doula fund. Make coffee and meals at home, buy maternity clothes second hand, cut cable tv, meal plan and coupon, walk to work if possible, look at your monthly expenses and determine where you can cut back.
Ask for the funds
It seems like all sorts of people of turning to family and friends to help them fund different projects and vacations and passions. Why not start a www.gofundme.com or www.giveforward.com and ask everyone you know to pitch in. If you are on facebook and have 130 friends and each one donates $5, the entire cost of my services are fulfilled.
A final thought
You know, most doulas aren’t in this for the money. When you break it all down, I’ve earned less than $8 per hour with some clients with long labors. When you take into account the fact that when I’m doula-ing, my husband sometimes takes care of the the kids and therefore can’t get all his work done, it would sometimes make more financial sense not to do this work. But I LOVE what I do and my husband supports that. Doulas want to help women feel supported throughout their birth experience. I would not be the person that I am today if I wasn’t a doula.
P.S. – A thank you card or baby announcement card is wonderful. A review or testimonial is very much appreciated. Cash tips are always welcome. I’ve received tokens of gratitude from notebooks, to chocolate gift baskets to earrings to original artwork. I’ve been paid for classes months after baby was born. Communicate openly with your doula and you’ll most likely – I hope! – find a way to make it work together.