I’ve recently learnt that doulas in the States charge a lot more then they do in Canada. And for good reason. To have a birth in the states, in a hospital, without insurance, can run up a serious bill. With doulas being the MOST evidence based way to reduce complications in labour, reduce interventions, and reduce need for pain management, it is also one of the number one ways to save yourself hospital bills.
In Canada with OHIP covering your primary care provider, OBGYN, Doctor or Midwife; the financial costs of interventions are hidden. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the emotional, somatic and physiological costs are not hidden. Birth trauma is real. Lack of consent at births is a problem. Lack of education going into a birth opens you up to all kinds of risks and interventions.
I’m not saying that a doula can prevent all brith traumas, all interventions or all need for extra pain management. But the research is there, and the evidence is saying that having a doula educating you in pregnancy, and by your side in labour, reduces your chances of having a C section, reduces your need for an epidural, and reduces your chances of having interventions in birth such as inductions, episiotomies and forceps.
So how to afford a doula? My area of expertise is not budgets, and I would be remiss to not throw out a couple comparisons. Pregnancy is 9 months long, we are happy to break payments into 7 payments of $200. The list is endless of things that we spend $200 on a month. And we do it because we they are valuable to us. Our gym membership, our cell phone, our entertainment budget etc. The reality is, I get what its like to be tight for cash, and to save dollars here and there. The truth is, we pay for things that we believe have value. And when we understand the true value of a doula, the emotional, mental and physical support that she provides, it makes it easier to pay for.
I haven’t done this myself, but I have heard of people saying to clients, here is my fee, but you can pay me what you can and what you think I am worth. Story has it, that these women have always been paid their full fee by the end. Once their clients see how they show up for them, and show their worth, they understand the value!
Its hard to understand the worth when you haven’t been through it yet. Its easy to say, I don’t think I’ll need that. I have my husband, my partner, my mother, my midwife, my sister etc. In my first pregnancy 8 years ago, I asked my midwife if she thought I should hire a doula, and maybe doulas were a little bit more of a newer concept then. She told me that she would be everything I needed and that she would be at my birth no matter what, because she really wanted to be at a unmedicated twin birth. As it turned out she was at her own wedding shower when I went into labour; and I really could have used someone in the room who I knew, someone who had my back, someone who had been through this before, and someone who knew what I wanted and needed in labour. My husband was amazing. Truly amazing. But he has regrets. Things he didn’t know to ask for. Things he wishes he had been more forceful about.
A doula is like a sherpa. She knows the mountain of birth. And your partner knows you. Together, they make an amazing team.