As a naturopathic doctor, I quite frequently get asked “why should I pay for my health care when I get it free from my medical doctor?”. After reading an article by a colleague of mine about that very topic (check it out here: http://www.drjustingallantnd.com/2/post/2013/01/why-should-i-pay-for-naturopathic-medicine.html), I was inspired to write a similar one about doulas. In Peterborough, I have found doulas to be under appreciated. Many doulas in town are trying to make this their career, however since we are paid very little for our time, it is difficult! I’m hoping this blog post will help explain to expecting families what they are getting for when they pay for a doula.
I want to ask you a question, and please think about it for a few minutes: How much would you pay for something that lowers your chances of needing a c-section, improves your relationship with your baby and your partner, lowers your level of pain, helps you make informed decisions, reduces the need for interventions like forceps, vacuums and medications, AND improves your success with breastfeeding? If a drug were able to accomplish this, medical doctors would be all over it! For many women the day they give birth to their child is the most important and memorable day of their life. If you could put a price tag on a positive experience, an experienced companion, someone to hold your hand, encouragement, an extra set of hands, what would the price tag be?
Many people see a doula’s price tag and think: why on earth would I pay that much for emotional support during labour? Well folks, the mystery of how a doula sets her fee’s is uncovered here, keep reading!
When a doula accepts you as a client she is giving you her guarantee that she will be on call 24/7 for at least 2 weeks prior to your due date until you deliver your baby. Living on call is a stressful lifestyle, and not one many of us can handle. Being on call requires a high level of personal sacrifice: birthdays, work, relationships, vacations, holidays, and sleep are all sacrificed.
While a doula’s fee’s may seem intimating at first, when you factor in the amount of time a doula spends researching on your behalf, driving to and from prenatal and postnatal visits, having prenatal and postnatal visits, gas, food, parking at the hospital, supplies to fill her doula bag, she really isn’t making much moola. The longest continuous labour support I have provided was 36 hours, after accounting for prenatal visits, postnatal visits, travel time, email and phone communication, gas, and parking at the hospital I was making approximately $5 an hour. Women do this kind of job because they have a passion for it, not because of the money.
Not only are you paying for her tangible supplies and her time, you are also paying for her training, her experience and her knowledge of pregnancy, natural labour, medicated labour, breastfeeding, postnatal care and breastfeeding. Being a doula, allows us to see how docs do it, how midwives do it, and other how doulas do it. For the most part each health care provider is only familiar with his/her way of doing things, however, doulas see it all, which is one of the things that makes us unique. Being a naturopathic doctor adds another degree of uniqueness to the care I offer my clients. Naturopathic doctors have a wider scope of practice, allowing us to use natural means to induce labour, to turn breach babies, to alleviate pain, and to help emotional momma’s cope. Naturopathic doctors are also covered under many benefit plans!
I can understand the hesitancy to pay for a doula. Putting a price tag on something as intangible as piece of mind, preparedness and reassurance is not something we are used to. I hope that by reading this article you have gained appreciation for what a doula does for her clients, and maybe even consider having a doula attend your birth.