As the Executive Director of The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd., I’m proud of many things. I’m proud of our 501(c)3 status. I’m proud of the little organization we’ve built. I don’t think building this or any non-profit is as hard as anyone likes to think it is, but it’s still an impressive little accomplishment. We’re working on creating a program that integrates prenatal education and birth doula support with mental health and medical risk counseling, and I’m working on raising money to open our very own Baby Cafe to provide breastfeeding help and support to families free of charge. Today, I want to tell you about our doula program.
First, a little background: I’ve been a doula for 9 years. I started my career in Southeast Minnesota. Things there 9 years ago were very different than they are in the Twin Cities now. First of all, there were (and still are) only a handful of doulas in the area; however, those doulas were some of the kindest, most caring doulas I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and I miss seeing them on a regular basis. Second of all– do you know how much doulas cost? I charged $350 for the first two years I was a doula. That was a totally normal fee. By the time I started taking clients again after my son was born (7 years ago), I think I was charging $550. Third, many of the doulas that started as doulas the same time I did are no longer doulas. Why? Being a doula in a solo practice is brutal to maintain over any length of time. It’s hardly steady income, it’s almost impossible to balance with any other job, and if you have kids it requires many sets of extra hands to be willing and able at any given time to pitch in when a doula is called to a birth. It makes it exceptionally difficult for doulas who don’t have family at the ready. It also means almost any doula ends up having to be a stay at home mom.
As my doula fee for private clients crept up, I’ve become acutely aware that, in all likelihood, that fee was out of line with my own family could afford if we had to hire a doula today. Paying what amounts to a mortgage payment or a month’s rent on a doula? Whoa. Now, it would take a book to explain how doula costs got this high, but if you believe in market forces (and, yes, I actually do), then it’s easy to tell it was time for something to change.
So, if you’re keeping track, there are a couple of issues at play: It’s hard for anyone who needs to work a regular job to pay the bills to work as a doula in private practice (how 99%* of doulas in the US operate). It’s hard to be a doula in private practice unless you have a ton of flexible social and family support to help with childcare. It’s hard for families to pay for doulas out of pocket (and no–I’m not going to tell parents to go to extreme measures to pay for doula care). Over 40 studies have found that doula care improves birth outcomes for mothers, partners, and their babies. No study has ever found negatives to doula care. Having access to doula care is a critical part of providing evidence-based maternity care. That’s why The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd. is doing doula care differently than anywhere else. So, here’s what we’ve come up with:
The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd.’s doula care is different. The fee for doula care is determined by a family’s income level, and our doulas and providers work as a group to ensure complete collaborative care.
- Fees range from $150-$800 based on a family’s income (more here).
- Families are matched with 2-3 of The BabyLove Alliance, Ltd.’s doulas, whom they will work with during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. We call this a “pod”. They work together as a team to help families throughout their pregnancies and attend births based on a rotating call schedule. This way, the doulas can balance jobs, kids, life, all while being paid a fair wage for their time spent with clients.
- The program starts with a comprehensive intake to make sure we can do our best job of supporting our clients. If necessary, we may have them work with other professionals in our organization.
- Our doulas are accountable to the organization and to each other. They are trustworthy, professional, and kind– a must for any birth professional you’d hire!
I really, really, really believe in this model. It’s sustainable. It’s the most fair to everyone. Yes, others are doing similar things in the US (maybe?), but I think it’s enough of a difference that doulas and families looking for doulas should take a look.
To find out more, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 651-200-3343.
Or, attend one of our upcoming Doula Information Nights to meet our doulas, have a chance to ask questions, and to start the process of working with our program. They are:
- February 26th, 7PM
- March 25th, 7PM
- April 22nd, 7PM
At BabyLove– 4590 Scott Trail, Suite #102, Eagan, MN 55122
Having a doula is more within your reach than you think. Being a doula is something you can actually do. Hooray!
*I’m totally guessing there.