When I first heard about what a doula was, my husband was in grad school, and our main source of income was his research stipend. I used most of my time taking care of my twin daughters, and I worked a variety of side jobs to (minimally) supplement our income: babysitting, tutoring, teaching voice lessons, cutting hair, and a couple of other random gigs. Money was tight, but we recognized that the sacrifices we were making as a family would pay off long-term and that education is invaluable. When I was pregnant with my son, my neighbor, who was pregnant with her third baby, told me about doulas and sang their praises. Then she mentioned the cost of hiring a doula, and the subject became completely irrelevant to me. It simply wasn't in the budget!
Fortunately, I took a comprehensive childbirth class, and my husband was a fabulous support. My obstetrician was respectful of my desire for an unmedicated VBAC, and I lucked out with a phenomenal nurse who stepped in and gave some awesome counter-pressure and words of encouragement. I ultimately had a very empowering, amazing labor and birth.
Three years earlier, when I was pregnant with my twins, I didn't even know what a doula was. If I had know then, though, my reaction would have been the same as it was during my pregnancy with my son, "that sounds nice, but it's not relevant to me. It's just not in the budget." But in the case of their birth story, I sincerely believe that having a doula by my side would have made a world of a difference. I strongly believe that, with the help of a doula, my husband and I would have realized that we had the opportunity to make choices throughout my labor. We could have declined or delayed interventions, and I have a hunch I could have avoided the emergency cesarean that brought my twins into the world. Of course I'll never know, but I know for sure that additional knowledge and support during that pregnancy and birth would have been helpful. But it wouldn't have been in the budget.
So, if you figuratively find yourself in my old shoes, saying, "a doula sounds nice, but it's just not in the budget," please reach out to me. I offer a significantly reduced (40% off) student rate, and I'm willing to work with anyone (students or not) to make my services affordable to you. Everyone deserves a supported birth!
Here are some other ideas to help make hiring a doula a financial possibility:
*Consider this: A doula provides physical and emotional support that can help you avoid the use of pain relief medications during labor, such as epidurals. Not having an epidural on your hospital bill will significantly reduce your hospital costs!
*Ask for funds for a doula on your baby shower wish list.
*Some insurance companies will give partial or full reimbursements for doula services. Reach out to your insurance company to see if they'll offer that for you--it can't hurt to ask! To boost your argument, share this article from Evidence Based Birth. Your insurance company will see that when their clients have doulas, they are likely to save money! This blog post takes you through the step-by-step process of asking your health insurance company to reimburse doula costs.