I scheduled my first mama!!!
She's due in December, which feels like a long ways away, but it gives me time to do some re-reading of important doula books, I'll have taken one prenatal Yoga course and my essential oils book will have arrived from Amazon.com which means I'll be able to create more room sprays and massage oils for my mamas. And, and this is the most important, it means that I'll have that much-needed, hands on experience to help my doula practice grow.
When I first started to train to be a doula I worried about fees-would I be charging to much, would I be charging too little, should I charge while I'm still certifying.
My December birth's compensation? A metro card. And I'm okay with that.
The organization that I did my doula training and who I will certify with is called Ancient Song Doula Services (ASDS) and their focus is not only to train women to be birth and postpartum doulas, but to make doulas available to women who wouldn't be able to afford them. I'm a volunteer doula with ASDS, which means that some of the births that come through their practice will be done for free of for a minimal fee. I'm happy to do the work, especially as I continue the certification process, but also when I am certified because I truly believe that every woman, no matter her financial means, should have the support of a doula. It is because of that conviction that I want to do low-cost or free births even after I'm certified.
And, I want to be a full-time, full-spectrum doula. I want to become a certified prenatal Yoga instructor, a lactation consultant and a birth educator. In order to do all of these things, to pay for these certifications I, and a lot of doulas, have to pay for it ourselves. Doulas make their living supporting women through labor and birth. Many doulas, myself included, work full-time to cover the bills, but hope and dream of doing birth work exclusively. Which is why we have fees.
I thought hard about how I would charge my doula fees and came up with fees based on financial means. I created a chart that is broken down by income to determine how I charge my doula fees. It's interesting because it's based on trust. I trust that the mamas who come to me are honest about their financial status and they trust that I will fully and holistically support them before, during and after their births.
I was pleased to see Jodi the Doula's recent blog post about doula fees not because it "proved" anything, but because it helps me better explain and understand what a typical week looks like for a full time doula. The opening paragraph and a link to the post is below.
Every doula has heard it at least once…
“So, if my birth is really fast, you’ll refund part of what I paid you, right? Because then you didn’t really have to work that much.”
“How can you be ok with charging so much?”
Or, my personal favorite, “You know, what you’re doing is an act of service. It’s really special. It’s like doing The Lord’s Work. So, don’t you think it’s wrong to not do it for free?”
The money questions… it’s enough to make any doula want to crawl under a rock, or wish we could go live in a yurt, in a nudist colony, on a self-sustaining farm, so that our living expenses could be lower.
How a doula sets her fee is an unclear concept to many people who are seeking or offering birth services. On the surface, it may seem like a doula’s fee is a lot of money for what amounts to one big day of work. I offer this so that new parents and new doulas have greater clarity of what a doula’s fee really includes.
A Typical Work Week: Booking one “due date” per week is more than just one day a week at work – it’s a full-time workload. Consider this – for every client I take on, I offer up to three face-to-face prenatal meetings, unlimited phone support throughout pregnancy and the first week postpartum, and an in-home postpartum visit. This means that an average work week for me will have four to six home visits (about two hours each), six to ten hours of phone time, and eight to twelve hours of travel time. Throw in a couple of hours for recordkeeping, appointment scheduling, text and email support, and the extra hours it takes to call everyone and reschedule when I have a mama in labor. That’s typically a 37 hour work week, before I’ve spent even one minute at a birth. When all is said and done, each client, on average, has had the benefit of 30 to 42 hours of her doula’s time, and most of those hours have been when she hasn’t been in labor.