postpartum doula

How to Creatively Pay For a Doula

All new families deserve to have a doula at their birth and in the postpartum period. Unfortunately, the cost can seem prohibitive for many families. Read on for some tips to make it more accessible if you’re struggling with finding the funds for hiring a doula. And no, I’m not going to just tell you to stop buying coffee! 

“it’s just one day”

When we were planning our wedding, we happily forked over nearly $8000 for that one day. We spent thousands of dollars to celebrate our marriage, as many people do. According to a recent poll, Canadians think spending $8300 is a reasonable amount to spend on a wedding. And some sources say that the actual average cost of a wedding is around $25,000. That’s a pricey party!

Seemingly, we have no problem spending money like this for this “one day.”

And yet.

When it comes to birth and actually bringing a human being into this world, we falter and wonder about the value of paying someone to support us through this incredible transition. Birth is just one day (hopefully) but parenthood is forever. And the way we enter parenthood can have a profound effect on our mental health. But even though evidence shows that having consistent support like a doula can increase the likeliness of having a positive birth experience, sometimes the cost stands above that. We live in a capitalist society – of course the cost is on our mind when deciding. And in today’s world, many families need to be conscious of finances as they grow and experience maternity and parental leave and the adding of babies.

I didn’t know.

I often hear that the cost of doula services is high. And yes, it can seem that way, especially if you’ve never heard of what doulas do. If you take a look through any parenting group on Facebook, it’s not uncommon to see people searching for discounted doula services. And I get it. Back when I had my first child, I would have said and done the same thing if we had chosen to have a doula. 

But I really had no idea back then.

I didn’t know about all the extra time outside of the birth that a doula spends on their clients. 

I didn’t know what being on call 24/7 was really like. I didn’t know about the hours and days spent educating themselves to stay on top of what is happening in the birth world. 

I didn’t know all of the costs of operating a business. I didn’t know the cost to their families.

I just didn’t know.

So, here’s how to CREATIVELY afford a doula

Cost is something that so many of us are looking at when it comes to utilizing these types of services. I know, I get it. Budget can be a big concern, especially if you’re about to be on maternity and parental leave! But it IS important to pay anyone who provides us services (doulas, photographers, mechanics, plumbers, child care workers, etc). People who provide these services have their own lives and families to care for as well. They can’t just work for free or they will end up paying to do so. 

9 Ways to find the funds for a Doula

Cost can seem prohibitive, I know. And sometimes there just isn’t anything in the budget that you can realistically cut out. But, there are many creative ways to afford a doula that perhaps you hadn’t thought of.

  1. Add it to your baby registry or wish list. Ask friends and family to gift you this service rather than buying nonessential baby gear. Sweet little baby onesies are adorable and fun to buy, but they are grown out of quickly. Baby swings and bouncers are fun, but it’s really easy to find these secondhand. Most doulas offer gift certificates to make gifting their support easier.
  2. Ask about payment plans. Most doulas are willing to set up a payment plan to make it easier for you to afford their services. They want you to feel supported in birth and most are willing to work with you to make that happen.
  3. Ask family and friends to donate funds. Even $5 donated towards the cost can add up!
  4. Use a flex or health spending account if you have one. Some people have had success with their benefits too.. Not all will cover the cost, but it’s worth finding out!
  5. Ask for a customized package. Often doulas can customize their support in a way that gives you support and yet still allows you to pay them for their time. For example, both myself and our friends at Down to Earth Birth offer a special birth doula package that offers prenatal and birth support without the actual in person birth support. 
  6. Barter! Yes! Many doulas are happy to barter for goods and services of comparable value. Maybe you’re a photographer or maybe you do web design. I know I’d be happy to trade services for someone to come do a big house clean or help me with organization! You never know if you don’t ask.
  7. Use your tax return if you get one.
  8. Look at your budget to see where you can make small switches to save over the year. Don’t give it up, switch it up. For example, grab a Tim Hortons coffee over a Starbucks coffee or choose a smaller size latte over the larger size. What can you borrow or buy second hand over buying brand new? A lot of costs may also be cut just by being pregnant simply because you are advised to avoid things like alcohol and soft cheeses. 
  9. Try this trick a friend of mine uses to save up for monthly trips to the mountains: Every time you check your bank balance, round down your balance to the nearest $5 (or $10) amount and move that “extra” into a savings account. After a few months, you should have a decent amount of cash saved! Don’t check your balance that often? Save your change/cash up instead!
I get it.

Look. I get budget concerns. I know that sometimes, none of this is possible. Sometimes the funds just aren’t there, no matter what you do. Sometimes, all of switches and cutting back has already been done. We were a one income family for many years – I completely understand. I am still a price conscious shopper, and sometimes that means that I don’t see the value in some things and try to DIY whatever it is I am looking at. 

And you know what?  

I usually regret that choice.

Don’t make that mistake in birth. I can still get my chairs reupholstered properly. You don’t get a second chance at your birth or postpartum time.

If you can show true financial need, there are many doulas who are willing to work with you to get you the support you need. Maybe that’s a sliding scale, maybe that’s you utilizing a few of the tips above to cover some of the cost. Just send a message to chat!

I want you to have the most positive birth and postpartum experience possible. I want you to have the confidence to know that you are ready for whatever birth and postpartum throws you – and that you have the support around you to help get through it. I want you to feel supported and loved – no matter what happens. 

Love Sarah