(Note from Anna: Hiring a doula was one of the absolute best things we did for the birth of our son, Henry. Our doula was technically, “in training” so we we able to benefit from her services without paying a fee. [We did end up giving her a family portrait session for free in exchange for all the help she gave us during Henry’s birth since we were so thankful for all she did for us]. We highly, highly recommend hiring a doula. In case you were wondering;)
None of the information provided below is meant to take the place of your own research. Act based on what is best for you and your family and your individual situation and needs!
One of the most frequent questions I encounter as a childbirth doula is how to cut back on birthing expenses. Most women who contact me already know that I am a doula-in-certification (or doula-in-training), so with this knowledge I am aware that my potential client is working within her budget, which I love! I don’t mind providing my services at a discounted rate while I am working toward my certification because doula work is what I am passionate about. That being said, one of the biggest ways to cut birthing expenses is to recognize pregnancy and birth not as a medical condition but as a natural life event. Once you realize your pregnancy and birth is a normal and natural life process you can think out of the “hospital” box and save money in hiring a doula-in-training no matter where or how you plan to birth.
Doulas-in-training are currently trained by whichever organization they are seeking their certification from. In order to become fully certified, a doula-in-training must attend a number of births and complete required classes, and reading and writing assignments as well as receive evaluations from doctors, midwives, and nurses they interact with during any births they attend. Hiring a doula-in-training will not only provide you with incredible support as you work toward your desired birth but she will also offer her services to you at a discounted rate. From experience, doulas-in-training are usually very knowledgeable as the required material is fresh in their minds and they are also eager to help and do a great job with their first solo births. Many have already attended births accompanying a mentor doula, and newer doulas are not afraid to call on their own support system for wisdom and guidance through your birth if they need some tips or ideas.
A doula can lower your costs all around, and having the support of a doula during birth has been shown to result in shorter labor (who doesn’t want that?) with fewer complications. It also reduces negative feelings about the birthing experience, reduces the need for Pitocin, forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans, and reduces the mother’s request for pain medication or epidurals. All of this to say the less medical intervention during your birth the lower the overall cost will be. Choosing to birth with a midwife at either a hospital or birth center will dramatically reduce your out-of-pocket costs as compared to birthing in a hospital with an obstetrician. The cost of your individual birth will obviously be dependent on a variety of factors including your insurance coverage, but generally a birth center birth will be the most cost-effective option. Also, most birth centers and some hospitals offer the use of a labor/birth tub either for laboring, birth, or both, and it can take the place of other forms of pain management; they don’t call it the “midwife’s epidural” for nothing—a labor tub is fabulous!
Other ways to save on birthing expenses include:
- Prepare yourself with information ahead of your birth so that you will be armed with knowledge of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to every procedure or intervention—not only to save money but to prepare yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually for your new bundle of joy and how he or she will be birthed into the world.
- Know ahead of time your preferences on costly procedures or interventions so that you are prepared for the bill later. This includes your stance on a range of procedures including, but not limited to, interventions during your labor, newborn shots, ointments, circumcision, and feeding preferences.
- Remember 4-1-1: Delay going into the hospital until you are in active labor with contractions coming every 4 minutes, lasting 1 minute in length, for at least 1 hour. Going into the hospital too early may not only increase your chances of more costly interventions such as induction, epidural usage, and/or instrumental or caesarian delivery, but at most hospitals if you go in at 11:30pm you get charged for the entire day even though you were only there for 30 minutes of that day!
Obviously go when you absolutely need to, but if you are educated on the stages of labor, you will have a much better experience.
Read books from the library that will encourage and inspire you such as Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Natural Birth the Bradley Way, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.
All in all, to cut back on birthing expenses surround yourself with positive support, become empowered with knowledge through books and other experienced women, and double check every bill you get in the mail after your prenatal care, labor, and delivery! I can’t tell you how many bills I received that were incorrectly billed in excess and had I not noticed and done the groundwork to get the bills corrected I would have paid thousands more out-of-pocket than necessary! Armed with knowledge of what is really necessary to birth your baby will make all the difference in the world, not only in the memories of your birth experience for years to come but in also in your ability to make the most informed financial decisions during this life-changing event.
Have you hired a doula in the past? Are you considering hiring a doula for the birth of your next child? Do you have any tips for how to cut back on birthing expenses?
Valerie Rohde is a wife, a new mom, and a childbirth doula working toward certification. She has a full time “day job” on top of the many other hats she wears while she and her husband are working hard toward becoming financially free of old debts and student loans. She is currently working toward her doula certification as well as becoming a childbirth educator and lactation consultant. She has an intrinsic love for writing and has just begun chronicling her family’s financial journey at Taking the Rohde Less Traveled as well as her more personal journey to parenthood here.
P.S. Related: My $110,618.02 Birth Story