So, you’ve read the literature, or seen the infographics on the measurable benefits to having continuous, trained labor support in the form of a doula. (You haven’t? Oh. Well, then. Click HERE to read the best, most recent evidence, then come back here and finish this post.)
Based on that measurable evidence, you’ve decided that you need a doula, but are wondering how on earth you can afford one. You’ve seen that doulas are worth every penny they charge, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the pennies, right? Right. I know that feeling! I think we all do, in this current economic climate.
As I mentioned in my last post, doulas in the Colorado Springs area charge anywhere from about $300 up to $650 at the moment. Of course, insurance doesn’t consistently cover us yet, though there are reports of some insurances doing just that after claims are submitted by clients. It’s slowly, but surely happening. Still, that upfront cost is still there.
To start, I would like to cover the basics of what you must have for a newborn. (Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this.)
- Boobs. With milk in them.
- Something to cover & clean their behinds.
- Maybe two weeks’ worth of clothes, depending on how often you do laundry, and how often your baby blurfs on you, or has poopsplosions.
- Car seat. Must-have, if you ever need to go out and buy food or something.
- Some sort of barrier between spit-up and your clothing.
- Some sort of well-made babywearing device.
- Small diaper bag.
Really, everything after that is gravy. Sure, there are a lot of very handy devices, contraptions, and doo-hickeys, but most of those are luxury items, that add up very quickly to hundreds of dollars or more. Of course, many of these items are covered by the ubiquitous Baby Shower. Everyone is eager to pick up your Target registry list and go crazy!
- fancy nursery sets
- high chairs
- various swings
- pack n’ plays
- child-proofing devices
- baby gates
- teething rings
- floor mats
- wall decals
- specialized bath tubs
- giant diaper bags
- SO MANY THINGS!!!
Do you really need all of that? No. Most of those are created needs. They come in handy, certainly, but most aren’t needed in those newborn days before six to eight weeks postpartum. Oftentimes, it makes sense to put off getting most of these items until you know for sure it’s something you will use. Time will tell very quickly in that case.
So, instead of creating a registry for SO MANY THINGS! for your baby shower, might I suggest: Have a simple money tree, or card box set up, and ask people to contribute what they would have spent on stuff to your Doula Fund. Most people tend to be as generous as they can toward new mothers and babies, and will be happy to do just that.
In lieu of all the stuff, you will likely end up with plenty of money to pay the doula you would like to hire. You may even have some left over to pick up one or two items that you find you really would like to have. It’s a win-win!
Of course, that’s not the only way to go about it. I just think it’s often the easiest way. Still, there are other options.
Some other ideas to help you pay the doula you’ve chosen:
- Bartering. Many doulas have need of the skills you or your partner possess. Offer a dollar-for-dollar trade, up to a certain amount, then pay cash for the balance.
- Sell some stuff. Maybe you’ve already had a baby, and found you didn’t need that $400 jogging stroller, and barely used it. Perhaps your garage needs to be cleaned out. You may be able to scrape together enough to afford the doula you’d like to hire.
- Make and sell some stuff. Do you sew at all? Crochet or knit? Make fabulous cakes? Jewelry? Do you paint? Photography? Put those skills to good use!
When all else fails, and you honestly can’t pull together the entire balance…
- Hire a training, or newer doula, and work with her to pay her what you can afford.
- Ask for a discount. Be specific. “I can’t afford x, but I can afford y. Can you do that?”
- Ask for a payment plan. Again, be specific. “I can make payments of x amount, over 6 months.”
Most doulas are willing to work within certain parameters, as long as a client is upfront, honest, and is willing to put a financial agreement in writing. We hate to say no to someone in need, and most doulas will bend over backwards to help you make it work. We know that we have measurable benefits. We know that doulas are much more of a need than a luxury, especially in the current birth climate in this country. We want to help, but communication runs two ways.
You only have to ask.
It’s almost always feasible to afford a doula – you just have to get creative, be flexible, and find a doula that can work with you in your particular circumstances. Remember, you are trying to secure evidence-based, customized, continuity of care for yourself and your baby. It’s more than worth it. You will likely never regret spending money on a doula, because you are really investing in yourself and your care.
What ideas do you have for raising moolah for a doula? What have you done in the past — either as the doula or the client — to make it work?
Grace & Peace,