I talk to a lot of families about their experiences with doulas. As a doula and as part of a doula collective, I often am curious if families feel like their birth doula was worth it and if they would use a doula again. Similar trends come up when I talk with families. Families say things like:
"I would have paid double the cost if needed because having a doula was a game changer"
"I will have a doula for all my births".
"if I could go back and talk to myself during my first pregnancy I would tell myself to get a doula"
What makes birth doulas so invaluable to these families?
Besides all the juicy statistics that doulas benefit families by reducing interventions and increasing satisfaction in your experience, doulas help you have a positive experience regardless of how your labor unfolds. They help you go into labor with more confidence and less anxiety. They hold space for you to feel all the feelings and allow yourself to feel vulnerable which helps you let go and enables birth to unfold.
Partners feel more supported and less stressed about having help in providing emotional and physical support. Partner are able to take care of themselves, have time to eat, drink, go to the bathroom and rest a bit. One partner told me he felt so relieved when his doula showed up that he didn't have to think as much about when to go to the hospital and could just concentrate on supporting his partner because his doula was there to guide them on when to go. Another partner mentioned with their first baby they expected to get a lot more support from the hospital nurses and OB but they didn't see them very much and felt very alone so decided to hire a doula for their second.
During pregnancy many families feel like doulas are valuable to have a consistent person to answer any questions, talk things through and help guide them in knowing their options and what questions to ask their providers. Do you ever wish you could call your OB to ask a random question? You can't, so call your doula!
I also hear a lot from families contemplating using a doula, that they would love to have a doula but can't afford one. Sometimes this is a mindset honestly, if you want a doula you can find a way. If you truly can't afford one, doulas often will have sliding scales or even low cost programs for under resourced families.
Here are some ideas for ways to afford a doula:
1) Ask for doula services in your baby shower: most people don't need half the stuff they get from baby showers, but a doula? That would be an amazing gift!
2) Look into your workplace Health Savings Programs and plan ahead to put aside money. Most HSA's reimburse for doula services and childbirth education classes.
3) Ask your doula for a payment plan.
4) Ask your doula about bartering. Do you or your partner have valuable services you could offer in exchange? I have worked with families in exchange for massages, acupuncture, body work, computer services and child care.
5) Ask your doula for a sliding scale or low cost options. Here is Flagstaff, Flagstaff Doulas has a non-profit program specifically for supporting under resourced families.