Home Birth Advocacy

What To Do If You Can’t Afford a Doula

10 Comments 01 December 2011


I am pregnant and planning a home birth and would like to hire a doula, but don’t have much extra money for the extra expense. Should I forgo hiring a doula and rely on the support of my midwife and husband? Or should I try to find a doula who will work with me financially?


I see a few different ways to about discovering an answer to this question.

First of all, I’d like to make it known that I absolutely see the benefits of having a doula present at a home birth. A doula provides emotional and physical support to laboring women that is unmatched. She has been trained to do so. I personally wouldn’t birth without my “dream team,” doula and midwife combo.

That being said, a doula’s support is definitely not always necessary for every woman who chooses to give birth at home (although I strongly recommend hiring a doula for hospital births!). Home birth can be a wonderfully intimate experience shared with the laboring mother and her partner, with their midwife on hand as needed.

My advice in 3 steps:

#1: Consult with your midwife and talk with her about what kind of support she commonly provides. Talk to her about your ideal birth. What kind of support are you looking for? Hands on or hands off? Some of this you might not know until you’re in labor. That’s okay. Just speak openly.

#2: If after you speak with your midwife you should still feel dissatisfied, and long for another support person, begin interviewing doulas. Explain your situation to them. Some doulas are very interested in attending home births, those who barter or may take split payments. You never know until you ask.

#3: Perhaps you’re not exactly sure why you want to hire a doula in the first place, you’re just under the impression that you’re going to want a lot of support during the uncharted territory of a first home birth. That is a very natural feeling to have! Try creating a doula pro and con list. What are the reasons you’d like a doula there with you? Why might you not want a doula? Envision your ideal birth.

In the end, I have all the faith that your birth experience will be everything it is meant to be.

Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. Laurie says:

    Doulas who are going through the certification process may be willing to work at a reduced fee or even for free. I would encourage you to contact several. Good luck!!

  2. Chrstina says:

    I myself am a doula, there are many options for you. Please never let cost keep you from having any and all support you want at your birth. You could search on any doula finding service website and see if anyone is willing to take on a low/no cost client. See if there are any doula’s in training in your area. All doulas in training need x amount of births to certify; a lot will do them at little to no cost. I know most doulas I know have rates but are more then willing to slide their standard fees. I hope you can find all the support you want!

  3. Jo-Anne says:

    There are beginner doulas out there that will work for very low or no fees. I hired one with my first birth, I had interviewed one lady who would do it for free and the lady I hired did it for a low fee. So there may be options out there.

  4. Kristi says:

    Perhaps she could interview several doulas, most doulas I know offer free in-person consultations, and see if she feels a connection with anyone. Just the interviewing process may help her decide whether she needs a doula. Or she might meet someone that she just HAS to have at her birth. I don’t know of any doulas that wouldn’t try to work something out with a family. At this point, I *think* I may not need a doula, but I think I’d like to go through the interview process anyway to know for sure. There’s something about meeting people where you sometimes feel a spark. I have felt that spark/connections at interviews with people and they have told me later that they thought “She’s the one!” when they still had other people to interview. Maybe they were just being nice, but I think it’s probably true.

  5. Joe says:

    Dads have the ideal position of providing birth support because they know their partners better than most anyone else in the world. When the dad is prepared for the birthing time, he can be a powerfully solid support. If the funds aren’t there for a doula, then a do-it-yourself dad can start his crash course on doula-ing. Here’s a quick and ideal reading list:

    1. Fathers at Birth by Rose St. John
    2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
    3. Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper

    Lastly….watch tons of homebirth videos with empowered birthers. Fill your mind with your ideal birth so your mind AND your subconscious knows that it’s OK.

    You can do it.

    • bringbirthhome says:

      Thanks for your informative comment Joe!

    • Anonymous says:

      Love this post!
      BTW – at both my home births I had no doula…first time around I had my best friend and mother, 2nd time around had supportive daddy and my mother. All the support I personally needed.

  6. Tabitha Raimer Orr says:

    Good friends that have already given birth naturally can often be great choices. Even a woman that has not given birth but trusts birth totally can be a good choice if there is already a bond between the birthing woman and the friend.

  7. Brooke says:

    I would like to say that I am a Doula. I know many Doulas, myself included, barter and take payment plans. I also have a reduced fee. I also have two very important points to make: as for “the intimacy of homebirth”, a good Doula knows when to make herself scarce and when to be with mom and dad. If she is not needed, she will be in another corner of the house quietly knitting or playing a game on her (insert electronic device)…or cleaning or cooking or playing with the older kids or convincing grandma to stop suggesting “we go get some pain medicine”. A good Doula will do whatever it takes to make the birth happen as mom has envisioned it. Secondly, a home birth midwife has a job and a lot of responsibility for the health and safety of two human being. If she is doing counter pressure for 6 hours, what shape is she going to be in when the baby is being born?? Can she hold you up in a supported squat and catch the baby at the same time? You get the point…Most of the births I attend are home births. The midwife I often work with, who refers me often, feels that every client should have a doula and that her statistics are better with a doula present then without. There are fewer transfers transports and complications. In the grand scheme of things, what is another $500? A TV? A years gym membership? a weekend away? a few less Christmas presents? Every client I have ever been with has said “thank you so much, I couldn’t have done it with out you.” I know that is NOT true. These woman are strong and amazing and they could do it without me, but they sure were happy I was there. Even the husbands say, with tears hanging in their eyes “thank you so much for being here” Men (partners) feel a great responsibility to make everything perfect for the birthing mother. Sometimes they feel like a Doula would take over their job in the beginning. In the end, they all end up feeling grateful to have someone there to lessen the stress.

    • Jess says:

      Great points, Brooke! This has been my experience as a doula at home births too. Sometimes I clean up the house, play with a toddler, make food, refill water & give papas and midwives a break. All by “blending in” and reading into when & how I’m needed.

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