11/17/11

Update on Doula Fees





By the end of the year, Spirited Doula Services will be raising doula rates. Factors in this increase can be viewed below. *Prospective clients who have already contacted me will not be subject to this increase.

I will continue to work with clients with limited financial means by offering very flexible payment plans, sliding scales to those who qualify, bartering and discounts for repeat clients.


Explanation of factors considered for this increase:


  • Client exclusivity: This topic has many facets. The most obvious is that in order to maintain that bond with clients, I don’t want to take on 10 clients a month. So Ideally I would like to limit my practice to only take 2-3 clients per month and *try* to space it so that there aren't birth collisions. This is a difficult task (especially when I was taking 4+ private clients a month) because babies come when they want to, not when it works best for our schedule. Since this is my primary *career* (and not a hobby – or on the side). If I am to contribute to our family income reasonably, with this price increase I can take 2 clients a month (and ensure greater exclusivity for the client). Whereas, I used to have to take at least 4 clients a month with my old fee to provide for my family (less client exclusivity).
  • Phone, Text and Email: These can really add up! I have had clients who I have exchanged over several hundred texts with. We generally have to change our phone carrier plans once we become doulas in order to keep up!
  • Being on – call: This is probably the most imposing part of being a doula (a job that I *love*). Imagine someone invites you last minute to a weekend away, your doula response, “Can’t, I’m on call for a momma”. You’re at dinner and everyone else is staying out late, “no thanks, I’m on call”. A lot rides on the ‘on-call’ status. I often miss Holidays and family milestones as well while on-call. I plan my vacations and life around the client, their exclusivity and the on-call status. I generally like to book our clients far enough in advance so that we can plan vacations.
  • And I am not the only person on-call…my family is on-call too! That means I may have to take a separate car to dinner or won’t be able to do the nighttime routine with my son. My mother may have to keep her phone on if my husband has a full day of work. It is a family effort.
  • Which brings up a great point! The family of doulas! I tell people often that I have an amazing husband who supports my career and my antics! But I also have an amazing mother who makes so much of this doula business a success! She makes it happen! Because when I am on-call, so is she. If I get called while my son is with me, then she drops her plans to watch him and I pay her for childcare. There have been many times that she would have to be here at the house at 7AM so that my husband can get to work. When I get *the call* we have to plan in advance for me to be gone for 5-40 hours.
  • The 24 hour + labor: Well this is a tricky one for the doula and for the doulas family. 24+ hours of constant physical and emotional support is wonderfully exhausting. It never feels like that long – and we don’t realize it until later. So the scenario is that we have been gone for 24 hours and now it is 8AM and we are home with a 3 year old who wants to play ;) it happens! We charge the same for a 2 hour labor as we do a 24+ hour labor since it seems to all even out in the end.
  • Experience Factor: As a doula, montrice-in-training and childbirth educator who has attended over 65 births and worked with over 100 families in some capacity, I keep up-to-date on the latest studies, procedures, protocols, and policies surrounding birth and Oklahoma area hospitals and providers. See my experience and training here. Every birth and every family teaches us something new and we bring that knowledge and the skills we learn to every birth. This requires time and effort. There are also many costs associated with being a certified doula; the initial training, the tons of books, the membership fees, and continuing education. Being an experienced and successful doula requires more than a weekend course and reading (as helpful as that is!). The experience makes the real impact. We have to maintain a certain amount of local knowledge, continuing education in order to remain certified, in order to increase our learning in order to gain more experience. Continuing education is costly in many ways.
  • Lastly, we are self-employed (independent contractors): The rule of thumb is that a self-employed professional's income is only half of what they earn, after deductions for vacation and sick time, self-employment taxes, insurance, travel and business expenses (and the others mentioned above).

It requires a specific formula for woman to take on the doula profession. It is something we have to take into consideration – sometimes before and sometimes we don’t realize the investment until we’ve been practicing a year or two. But it is an investment. Being a doula is an incredibly challenging, emotional, rewarding, amazing, exhausting, and joyful profession! One that should be respected and protected! That is why I think it is important for doulas to re-evaluate their services and charge what is fair to them for these services because I strongly believe (and if you ask any other doula or family who has hired a doula they will most likely agree) it is a valuable service – one that deserves protection and sustainability.

To seek out a "free or underpaid doula" or to be a "free or underpaid doula" I believe you are doing future birthing women a disservice by making labor support an underpaid profession that cannot attract or keep talented, skilled individuals. If you end up selecting a doula who is undercharging for her services, I strongly encourage you to pay her more than she is asking; otherwise, she may not be around to help you with your next child.


Partially adapted with permission from Doulananda Blog and Gentlebirth.org

11/9/11

Latest Henna

Here is a BEAUTIFUL photo of some Henna I did recently featured in a client's maternity pictures taken by Amanda Scott Photography!








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