How to afford both a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula

Ok, so you’ve read the amazing statistics of improved labour and birth outcomes when using birth douas. And you’ve heard from multiple sources that having a postpartum doula in the weeks and months after birth can help you feel confident and capable while you adjust to parenthood, instead of overwhelmed and exhausted. But, how do you afford to hire them?

Well, one day governments and policy makers will recognise the value of these services and they’ll be covered by private health insurance companies and Medicare (another post for another day). But for now, let’s look at it this way.

The average cost of an Australian wedding last year (2018) was a smidge over $50,000. Eye-watering, I know. And yes, that’s the average. So there are plenty that cost WAY less. But it also means there are plenty that cost WAY more. But I wanted to show this in perspective of birth. Even if your wedding was only $10,000, that’s still a lot of money for ‘just one day’. One day that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The birth of your child/ren is also ‘just one day’, but research shows that birth days have a much, MUCH greater impact on our emotional well-being of the parents than a wedding day. Having a doula at your birth and to help you during the early postpartum period is an investment in your own well-being and mental health.

So, now you’ve done your own research (and not just taken my word for it) and decided you’ll hire a doula or two – either one doula who offers both services or two separate doulas offering individual services.

Now what?

Of course this depends on where you’re at in your pregnancy journey. If you’re yet to conceive, you’re laughing. You can start putting a few dollars a week away until it’s needed, and by the time you’re needing to pay deposits, you’re likely to have more than enough money stashed away. But what if you’re further in to your pregnancy journey?

First, check out my other blog post on What you actually NEED to buy for baby, and then get into buying second hand stuff. This could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars and save the planet from over-consumerism. Facebook Buy Swap Sell groups, Gumtree, eBay and many others are abound with people selling near new baby clothes, highchairs, cots, baby wearing devices and pretty much anything else you can think of. Look up the item you want from a retail baby shop, write down the price and then search for the same on a suitable site. Whatever you end up buying, if it’s less than the retail option would have been, put the difference into a ‘doula savings’ account.
Your next option is to reconsider the Pregnancy Level private health insurance (PHI) you may have bought into so you can ‘go private’ in your pregnancy and birth journey. Unless you have a specific pre-existing health condition which will complicate your pregnancy, research has shown time and time again that Midwifery led models of care produce better outcomes for both mother and baby. If you’re in the public system and develop a complication during pregnancy while in the care of midwives, you will be transferred to the care of an obstetrician if needed, still within the public system. Not paying for the extra PHI premiums for 12 months AS WELL AS the out-of-pocket costs of your private obstetrician will save you thousands. If you go through the public system and saved that money into your ‘doula savings’ account, you’ve got enough to cover the services of both a birth and postpartum doula, AND splurge on a few items to buy new instead of second hand!

But what about if you were never considering a private obstetrician care and were already buying most baby things second hand? This is where your friends and family come in. When someone asks ‘what do you need for the baby?’ you say ‘well, actually I need money to pay for my birth and postpartum doulas so I can have the best birth experience possible and feel the most capable in the first few weeks’. Hopefully they get the hint and give you a few dollars that you’ll then put straight into the ‘le ‘doula savings’ account. Planning a baby shower? Have a wishing well for Doula funds instead of asking for new clothes, nappies and blankets. Save whatever you can from your weekly pay, whether it’s $5 or $20, and over the course of your pregnancy you’ll save a surprising amount. Put all the gold coins you collect as change into a piggy bank to break open when it comes time for your doula fees to be paid, again you’ll be surprised how much is in there.

If you are experiencing genuine financial hardship, approach a doula anyway and be honest about your circumstances. They may offer alternate payment plans. Some doulas have a fund account where they ask wealthier clients to donate a little extra money which pools so they can help more disadvantaged clients. The worst thing they can do is say ‘no’.

And finally, if you meet specific circumstances and you’re living in Melbourne, there is also Birth for Humankind. They provide volunteer doula services and education to pregnant women experiencing social and economic disadvantage. Contact them to see if you qualify for their services.

However it is that you save the money for doula services, it will be worth the effort and investment. Tell me how you’ll be saving to hire your doula/s?

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