4 Ways to Get a Free or Low Cost Birth Doula
Want a doula for your birth but don’t have an extra $500-$2000 laying around? What if I told you you can get a doula for free!?
According to Evidence Based Birth: “In a 2012 survey that took place in the U.S., 6% of birthing people said they used a doula during childbirth (Declerq et al., 2013), up from 3% in a 2006 national survey (Declerq et al., 2007). Of those people who did not have a doula but understood what they were, 27% would have liked to have a doula.”
If the issue of payment was off the table, I’m sure more of that 27% would have had their doula.
But first, why would you even want a birth doula?
According to DONA International, women who use a birth doula are:
less likely to need Pitocin
less likely to have a cesarean birth
less likely to use any pain medication
more likely to rate their childbirth experience positively
Sounds pretty good right?
So back to how this could be free…
Doulas working on certification
New doulas going through training need to observe a certain number of births in order to receive their doula certification. Many new doulas have completed their training and just need another birth or two before they are officially certified. Most new doulas will jump at the chance to cross that birth off their list by offering their services to you for free or at an extremely discounted rate.
A great way to find these new doulas, is to contact an established doula in your area and ask if they know of any student doulas in need of a few more births. Doulas all know each other and are pretty good at helping you find someone that will meet your needs.
While you’re talking to this more established doula, make sure you also ask if she has any low cost spots available. Many doulas designate a certain number of spots they will offer per year at a discounted rate. These are usually reserved for families in a financial hardship that could really use the support of a doula for their birth. Please don’t take one of these spots if you are financially able to afford a doula and are just trying to find a deal.
Do you have a skill or business that could be part of a barter/trade situation?
Another option is barter/trade. Do you have a skill that could help a doula? Maybe you work in advertising or web design and can help a doula get her business more publicity in exchange for a discounted rate. Maybe you’re a photographer and could do professional headshots and a mini family session for your potential doula. Get creative. When offering these non traditional payment options, the worst thing they are going to say is no. It’s definitely worth a shot! Just make sure you are offering something of financial value. Just making a tray of cookies and asking for free services isn’t going to cut it.
Ask about payment plans
If you’ve found a doula that’s a great fit for you and your personalities mesh well, but she’s a little out of your price range, don’t be afraid to ask about payment plan options. The earlier you find your doula, the more months you have to be making payments before the birth. Some doulas may even agree to extended payments that run beyond the birth. Every doula is a little different so what may work for one is a no deal with another.
Hospital Volunteer Doulas
Some hospitals have free volunteer doulas available. When you use these programs, you don’t typically get to meet your doula until you are already at the hospital and in labor. You may get an amazing doula that fits your needs perfectly or get someone that doesn’t mesh with your personality well. Either way, its a free doula that is there to support you as needed. If the doula available is not a good fit for you, you can always tell them you want to continue without a doula. If you have any special circumstances or concerns, it may be better for you to research and choose a doula ahead of time so you can get to know each other and discuss your concerns before you are in labor. If you are in the San Diego, CA area, here are two hospitals that have free volunteer birth doula programs:
Important Note on Price
Doulas offer valuable support that can make your labor and delivery a more positive experience. Their services are worth every penny and this work is their livelihood. I’m all for finding a deal, but please only look into alternative payment options/free services if you truly cannot afford to pay full price. I believe every women who needs support should be able to get it and paying the full cost of a doula for some families is just not possible. That said, if you prioritize a doula and budget responsibly, affording a doula at full price can be easier than you think. Ask for money toward a doula as a baby shower gift! Honestly, a doula is way more important than a bunch of baby blankets anyways.