A Different Way of “Paying” for Doula Services
A system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money.
In today’s fast paced world, bartering could be confused with haggling, or arguing over the price of something, sort of like being at a flea market or a yard sale where the buyer tries to lower the price of the item by walking away or talking the buyer down. Bartering is not swapping, it is an even trade.
I have been a doula for 20+ years, and have supported dozens of women, their partners and families through labor, birth and the postpartum period. Living in Los Angeles, I have been paid handsomely for my work as a birth and postpartum doula, and have volunteered my services at a maternity home where women from all walks of life found themselves pregnant and homeless. Needless to say, they could not afford a doula. So on the one hand you have “clients” who can pay for a doula, and on the other you have women who are so grateful to have someone with them, supporting them through labor and birth.
“What is all this leading up to ”? You might ask. Well, we all painfully aware that our economy is struggling. Many couples and families live on one income, we are all shaving perks from our lives: gone are the family vacations, that new car, the kitchen renovation. But what about the doula you wanted for your birth?
Well, you can still have that doula, all you have to do is be imaginative, bold, and ask. Most doulas have “a sliding scale”, many will take payment over time, and some of us will barter our services. I have! A few years ago, I found out my farrier (the wonderful guy who puts shoes on my horse) and his girlfriend were pregnant. He sort of knew what a doula was, and in between trimming and shoeing my horse, I told him about the difference between a doula and a midwife. A light bulb went off! We figured that we both had a talent that we could exchange: I would be their childbirth educator/labor doula and he would shoe my horse for a year. He spoke to his girlfriend who happily agreed to the barter. All three of us were happy! A few months later, their baby was born, and our plan went off without a hitch.
As a doula, my “clients” and I sign a birth agreement, and in my barter situation, we did just that, except that in place of the agreed price for my services, we wrote in the nature of the barter.
So, in conclusion, if you really would love to have a doula, but think you can’t afford one, think again. Maybe your partner is a carpenter, and the doula needs new cabinets, maybe you are a web designer and the doula needs a new website, the possibilities are endless. We have become more open to seeing life through a different prism, and in the end, we all have something to offer,
Jenny Gillespie, ICCE,CD,BDT
To read about alternative ways to fund doula service, read part one on gift certificates
and visit our gift certificate page.