The Doula Payment Plan
By now we are all well aware that hiring a doula is an expense that can be difficult to fit into the average budget. Doulas are raising their rates which historically have been far too low in order to survive on this work alone. And that makes doulas even less affordable for some families.
But we also know that doulas can improve outcomes. We know that having a professional doula attend your birth can have some pretty incredible benefits. We wouldn’t do this work if we didn’t believe that. As doulas, we ALL want improved outcomes and we ALL want birthing families to have the support they desire.
So what’s a doula to do?
First, doulas must recognize that they are not needed at birth but rather in some cases desired. In fact, when I am in a room full of doulas and I say, raise your hand if you had a doula at your birth, less than 1/4 of the room raises their hand.
When I ask them why I get the following responses:
- I couldn’t afford one.
- I didn’t want one.
- My husband felt weird about having someone with us.
- I didn’t know what doulas were.
So what this means is that people can, in fact, have babies with or without doulas. And in many cases, very happily. Only about 1-6% of the population currently engages the service of a doula for birth.
Now, this is not to say that doula support is not AMAZING.
It absolutely is. And being a doula is equally amazing. Sharing in another human being’s process of labor and birth, while contributing to their feelings of empowerment and success as they meet their child is nothing short of incredible. I know first hand; I’ve shared in more than 1,000 of these experiences.
But here’s what I also know. I also know that being a doula is challenging. That the stress on a doula’s family is enormous.
Ask my younger daughter who struggled with separation anxiety that was triggered every fucking time the phone rang for her entire childhood…
And because I know this, I also know that doulas must be paid a fair wage for these sacrifices.
But we still have a problem. What about when a person wants a doula and can’t afford one?
Enter the doula payment plan.
Now you should know that this payment plan idea puts a great deal of responsibility on the client desiring the service. The client has to know pretty early on that they want a doula at their birth in order for this to work well.
You see, they have about 40 weeks of pregnancy to plan for it.
Let’s imagine that the average doula charges $1,000 for labor support. If I know I want a doula before I get pregnant, I need to consider a doula payment plan that looks like $25 per week for 40 weeks. Or $100 a month for 10 months. Easy math, right?
But the problem is… Wait for it… EDUCATION… Or the lack thereof…
You see, so many people don’t even know what a doula is until halfway through their pregnancy, or even longer… So let’s imagine you’re 20 weeks in. Now your doula payment plan looks more like $50 a week or $200 a month. Still doable for most but a hardship for some as well. With 10 weeks of pregnancy left it looks more like $100 a week or $400 a month…
The point is doulas, we must teach pregnant families about doula services much earlier than we are. We have to get out in front of this so that people can plan for, or budget in doula support.
What opportunities are available for educating your community on the services you provide?
I’m so glad you asked! Here are a few things for you to consider!
- Don’t wait for pregnancy or baby related events to be a vendor. Instead, buy a table for your business at community/family events.
- Fall festivals are great! You don’t have to make your table birth related either. Instead, offer face painting or a pie eating contest sponsored by: XYZ DOULAS
- How about collaborating with a wedding planner or bridal shop?
- Maybe reach out to your local high school for career day and share about your awesome profession!
Doulas, I implore you to think outside of the box. Let’s teach the world what doulas are and make having a doula part of the average baby planning budget.