I would love to work in a world where every person gives birth with the support of a doula, along with the support of a birth partner and their medical team.
Unfortunately, society isn’t quite there yet and hiring a doula is still a fairly new concept, and perhaps even still viewed as being “alternative”.
In my conversations with others, about what I do for a living, I tend to get a lot of similar questions, and these can also come up during the initial interviews with potential clients. I thought it would be a great idea to share these with you so that you can get some answers before we speak, or perhaps share the information with your partner so they can also see the benefits that hiring a doula will bring to you both.
Why do I have to pay for a doula when a midwife is free?
A doula works in a completely different way to a midwife, and ideally this should create a fantastic support team for you and your partner.
A doula does not undertake any of the medical aspects of your pregnancy and birth but as we support you all the way through the experience, we are in a great position to learn about who you are and what you want. This means that we can then share information with you that is relevant to your journey and support you in implementing your choices within the maternity system.
At this moment in time, this is not something that many NHS trusts offer, and if they do, it is usually as part of a specific project to support more vulnerable groups.
There are some amazing midwives and doctors working within the NHS but due to budget and time constraints, you will usually find that the service is delivered in a general “one size fits all” manner.
Hiring a doula, means that you can explore more tailored options, learn what these are and have that support in pushing to have these as part of your experience. We can also continue to advocate those choices for you when you are busy birthing and “in the zone”.
Why do doulas cost so much?
A lot of people only see the part where a doula attends a birth and think that this is all that the payment is for. What people don’t see is all the background work and time that goes in to preparing people for their births.
Here is a breakdown of my hospital birth fees to help explain:
Free – Initial meeting to discuss your thoughts and plans and make sure that you feel comfortable working with me. Usually lasts 1-2 hours.
£200 – 1-2 meets ups to discuss your choices in more depth and to help prepare your birth plan. These are usually around 2 hours each. Sometimes I will meet with you more than just once or twice (at no extra cost) if I feel it would be beneficial to you. £50 per hour
£200 – my attendance at 1-2 of your midwife or obstetrician appointments. I will usually try and spend some time with you before the appointment to discuss what you’d like support with, and then some more time afterwards to talk through the appointment and go over any details you weren’t sure on. £50 per hour
£200 – on average, I will spend around 4 hours in total, on research specific to my client’s needs. This ensures that my client has all the information available to make informed choices, and also that I am well prepared to support them during their journey. £50 per hour
£280 – when you choose to hire me, I will block out 28 days (2 weeks before your due date and 2 weeks after) in my diary, specifically for you. I don’t like to take on any clients that might overlap so I also block out an additional week either side to minimise the chances of this happening. For the 28 days that I am actively on call for you, I am ready to go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The on call rate is £10 per day.
£700 – on average, I will be with you for around 14 hours when you begin your labour. £50 per hour
£200 – 1-2 postnatal visits lasting around 2 hours each. £50 per hour
As you can see, this totals slightly more than the £1,500 I charge for hospital births but it’s important to me that I can keep my prices as affordable as possible whilst still being able to earn enough to eat and pay my bills.
I won’t charge you for any travel or parking fees when selecting one of my set packages so this cost is absorbed by me as well.
You will also have the added benefit of me having completed 3 years of midwifery training and gaining extra insight in to the medical side of birth, as well as understanding the maternity system and how to navigate it.
My home birth and planned caesarean birth packages are slightly cheaper than the hospital one. This is because hospital births on average, do last a little longer than home births. And as for the planned caesarean birth, this reduces the amount of time I spend on call for you due to knowing the latest possible date that you will have your baby.
All of my prices are set as standard, regardless of the length of your pregnancy or labour. So if I spend more time on call for you or with you during labour than the average as listed above, you won’t be charged any extra.
Equally, if your baby arrives before your due date or your labour is shorter than average, the price you have paid will remain the same due to me still having blocked out the time for you, so that I can be 100% present throughout your journey.
Will a doula affect my birth partner’s experience of the birth?
In short, yes! But only in the best possible way.
As a doula, I know how important it is that you have fantastic support from your birth partner during your labour so I will also be there to support them in supporting you.
During your pregnancy, I like to offer a meet-up with just me and your birth partner, to give them chance to ask any questions ahead of the birth that they maybe don’t want to worry you with. I can also give them some tips on how best to support and encourage you.
During the birth, my main focus is keeping a positive, relaxed and calm environment for you to do your thing. This means that if you and your partner are both in the zone and working well together, I will stay back and just continue to hold your birth space and perhaps advocate for you to the medical team.
I am also there to allow your birth partner to take comfort breaks or grab some fresh air, without feeling guilty that they are leaving you alone. Not to mention that I will also be making sure that they are eating and drinking plenty during the experience so that they are well energised.
What other benefits does having a doula bring?
Aside from the benefits already discussed, there are also scientifically researched benefits too.
Data shows that having continuous support during your pregnancy and birth, from someone other than a member of your medial team or within your family and social circle, actually improves outcomes for you.