• Chloe Bernard

Doulas cost money. That's a fact. Hairdressers cost money, dentists cost money, cars cost money too. Once you have decided that you want a doula, put all the chances on your side to get it.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

These are 7 steps to help you afford a doula:

  1. Noticing that this is a long term investment Your birth experience, just like your postpartum experience has an impact on your wellbeing, the way you see yourself as a parent but also as an individual or a partner. It can effect your health, your energy levels, your self-confidence, your relationships, your sexual life, your bond with your baby. Birth and postpartum matter. In case of perinatal death or miscarriage: because of the toll this takes on your mental health, resilience capacity and bonding in your couple, investing in emotional support, whether by hiring a doula, a therapist or a coach, can make all the difference. Events happen, but it is your experience, what you make of it, that counts. And sometimes it takes vulnerability, courage and external help or support.

  2. Putting price into perspective Think of the money you might have spent in a wedding ceremony: the venue, the flowers, the dress or suit, the rings, the catering, the cake, the photographer maybe... The average budget of weddings in Europe in 2018 was about 15 000€, according to an article by the Insider. This covers one day of celebration. Think also of the money invested into a honeymoon trip. On average, newly-weds spend about 3500€ on their honeymoon, mostly one or two weeks maximum abroad. This type of financial investment into a relationship doesn't usually include guidance nor couple counselling. Now think of the relatively small financial investment you put in a doula: the education, the continuous support, the reassurance. Think of the immediate satisfaction and the benefits you will keep enjoying your whole life.

  3. Saving money: spending less in material, more in education/support The childcare and juvenile products industry tries to sell you new articles each year making you believe all of these are an absolute "must have". They play on new parents insecurities and their natural desire to "do well" and be "good parents." Most parents want what is best for their children. But what is best is not necessarily a cupboard full of new fashionable clothes, the last baby toys on the markets, or a "go go gadget" potty that you can also use on planet Mars and that is convertible into a hockey helmet. Think of bare necessities and if you get tempted think of hand-me-down material from friends and family members, recycling centres, second-hand shops and Facebook marketplace (or other C2C platforms).

  4. Crowdfunding and birth registry Open your crowdfunding account for personal funding. There is GoFundMe and many others. In the Nordics, you can also simply share your MobilePay number to your potential funders. Share your dreams, be loud, receive financial help from people you love and who love you. If you have a birth registry, do not hesitate to add "doula support" to your list. Not only, it will help donors to know what you really really want, but it will definitely help you pay for your doula. It will also normalise the need of a doula and give valuable ideas to your future pregnant friends. Such a win-win plan!

  5. Asking your doula if they accept payment plans/instalment agreements Spoiler alert: most of doulas accept instalments. Money discussions might feel delicate or taboo to you but they don't have to be. See it as one practicality amongst others!

  6. Alternatives: Finding a volunteer doula or a doula apprentice Ask your nurse/midwife if they know volunteer doulas. Volunteer doulas can be assigned to expecting persons on specific grounds. The fee is minimum. Contact a doula training school and ask if a student is looking for a client to support. That could be a good compromise.


Hopefully, this step-by-step article will help you to make doula services affordable for you and your family. You deserve a beautiful and empowering experience. Create your ideal team: family, friends, doula and other professionals. Express your needs and wishes, not only to the universe but loudly. Ask for it!



  • Chloe Bernard

Updated: Jan 1

I would rephrase with "what do you actually pay for when you hire a doula"? If you think doulas are crooks or they exploit the situation of vulnerable parents to be millionnaires, maybe I won’t convince you, but if you want to understand the costs behind a doula’s fees, please keep reading.


Behind the fees of doulas, whose basic birth packages cost on average between 1000-1500€ in Finland, are all the obvious fees that parents can witness and experience but also all the "behind the scenes" expenses.


The visible:

  • Time spent with parents during pregnancy Preparing for birth, acquiring all the necessary knowledge to make powerful informed decisions. Building a strong birth team: connecting physically and spiritually. Establishing trust. This is the main key to navigate confidently and empowered through the Birth waves.

  • Time spent during labour, birth and immediate postpartum. I’ve been to births that lasted between 5 and 31 hours. Doulas tend to stay after the birth, keep company if baby is taken to NICU, help establish breast/chestfeeding, wait for parents to get a room and settle.

  • Time spent in early postpartum (postpartum home visit, debrief, postpartum care, sealing ceremony…). A few days after birth, emotions and tears might rise to the surface: questions, pride, regrets, fears, sometimes anger, mixed feelings that are difficult to untangled alone. It is important to express all these emotions, for each parent. Articulating one's dark cloud-feelings can help dissipate them. Having the attention one deserves, feeling validated, brings strength and confidence that can go a long way. All the physical and symbolic postpartum work, can support the release of stuck memories and the healing of traumas, in addition of accelerating the body recovery. These postpartum visits facilitate the transition.

  • Communication with the family Keeping in touch, keeping that link alive brings comfort to parents. Knowing that they are not alone and that they can contact their doula in case of doubt or to share both their joys and fears, is a relief.

  • Different material and accessories (TENS unit, electrodes, birth and peanut ball, books, affirmation cards, ethically made rebozos (from Antama for example), essential oils, gua sha combs, massage tools, etc.) Some birth accessories are expensive, take room and only serve during pregnancy or birth. Renting/borrowing is a great concept: ecological, economical and space saving. To me, there's even an emotional aspect to it: imagine using the same rebozo that helped birthing many babies before yours. Can you feel the strength of all these beautiful people? Can you feel that they are all behind you supporting you? I do. I want to.

  • Plants and minerals Organic herbs (for steaming), calendula and other flowers, essential oils (aromatherapy, postpartum womb massage), optional gem stones, palo santo, ingredients for ceremonies (raw cacao and spices), etc. I, like other doulas, want to work with the best quality and fair-trade products.

  • Food and travel Doulas don't teleport yet. Doulas still need to eat. Labour can be long, very long and doulas need that fuel to shake your apple tree.

  • Certified education Anyone can call themselves "a doula". There is no license per se. However there are certifications. Certified birth doulas have attended a doula training, either an international training such as DONA or CAPPA, or a local training in Finland such as Doulakka, Doules or Doula Akatemia. That means that they have not only completed the program (in my case about 400 hours), studying the physiology of birth, the protocols in place, hands-on techniques, but they are also committed to follow a standard of practice, and respect a code of ethics.


The invisible:

  • On-call time During this time the doula stays in the region, ready to join you any time, often in the middle of the night. Doulas are commited. They can't overlap with other clients to optimise for your birth. They also team up with a back-up doula to ensure that if any unfortunate impediment might occur (disease, accident), you wouldn't be left on your own.

  • Time preparing, shopping and cooking Your doula tries to tailor to your needs as much as possible. Depending on your existing knowledges or your special needs, they will deliver the best solutions, references, studies and contacts for your specific situation. They also need time to shop according to your situation or diet, preferences or possible allergies. When doulas cook for you (especially for the postpartum) it requires time too.

  • Time researching and connecting People have different needs and wishes. They might want to see an osteopath, an acupuncturist, or look for prenatal yoga or ballet courses. Doulas will suggest you professionals in their network or will work to find the best fit for you.

  • Continuous education A doula is learning and acquiring new skills constantly through workshops, courses or conferences, whether online or in-person, to better serve clients.

  • Time spent reading books and evidence based literature It is necessary to know the basics of birth and postnatal care literature but also keep up-to-date with last publications on the matter and most importantly all the significant and unbiased studies made about different interventions, procedures and protocols as well as the on-going research.

  • Writing Blog posts, guides, hand-outs. This can take time to collect and organise ideas in a pretty way.

  • Time spent on networking Doulas meet other professionals: other doulas like them or complementary perinatal professionals (midwives, physiotherapists, lactation consultants...) so they can choose the best back-up doula for their client, suggest a doula who better fits their requirements (specialty, mother tongue), refer them to specialists they trust and finally build up a solid perinatal community.

  • Website designing/building and hosting costs Whether "homemade" or created by a professional designer, websites take time, money and often both.

  • Marketing (business cards, ads) That is useful for us to find you and you to find us. Our business cards look also really good on your fridge or inside your Ina May's guide to Birth as a book-mark.

  • Cost of doula/birth association membership(s), for example Suomen Doulat or Aktiivinen Synnytys

  • Taxes! VAT in Finland is 24% (kind of one quarter, yes, that's a lot)


When I think of the benefits of such an investment, I have in mind all the medical aspects: less chances of needing an intervention, more chances of breast/chestfeeding success (if such is the wish of the parent), less time spent in the hospital. Moreover, I think of the emotional aspects, the possibly enhanced bond with the baby, the self-confidence as parents, all the well-being that material can’t buy. To see the full evidence on birth doulas, check out Rebecca Dekker’s website and the article Evidence on: Doulas.

First-time parents often overspend in childcare articles, a UK study revealed. Companies compete to sell you "indispensable" or "must have" accessories. What does a baby really need? Loving and caring parents, milk (human or manufactured), warmth, a safe place to sleep, nappies (not so many if you practice Elimination Communication), something to carry them and stay close (arms, sling, baby carrier).

What do new parents need? Feeling supported, validated, encouraged, loved. They need to rest, eat, keep hydrated and smell the sweet scent of their baby. They don’t need to worry about the rest.


If you struggle financially, there are still ways to hire a doula. We’ll see this in my next blog article, 7 steps to afford a doula.


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  • Chloe Bernard

Last year, I made this little lexicon to help my clients navigate through their journey in a smoother way. When you are pregnant in Finland, you meet nurses, doctors and midwives who speak Finnish or Swedish. Most of them speak English but you might be confronted to some "lost in translation" moments. I've got your back!





Abortti / raskaudenkeskeytys

Abortion

Termination of the pregnancy. It can be medical (induced with drugs) or surgical.


Akupainanta

Acupressure

Alternative Chinese medicine similar to acupuncture but without needles.


Akupunktio

Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine using the meridians of the body to balance and heal. Very thin needles are screwed in the skin at strategic points. It can be used during pregnancy to alleviate discomfort, pain or to facilitate labour.


Aquarakkulat

Sterile water injection (aqua blisters)

A non-medical pain tricker. Hot feeling that makes diversion. The sterile water is injected just under your skin, in your back or lower belly. You can ask for refills.


B-ryhmän streptokokki

GBS

Group B Streptococcus also known as Group B Strep Infection (GBS) is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman's vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in the vagina and/or rectum of about 25% of all healthy, adult women. Women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonised.


Ballonki

Foley balloon catheter

This is a tool used as a mechanical induction method. The balloon is inserted in the cervix, then it is inflated with a saline solution and left in place while being taped to the thigh to provide gentle traction. When the balloon falls down, that means the cervix has opened. During this process, contractions usually start and labour follows.


Doula

Doula

A professional who offers you information and unconditional (emotional and physical) support through pregnancy, birth and beyond. There are different types of doulas: birth doulas, yoga doulas, water doulas, bereavement doulas, death doulas, postpartum doulas. Some doulas are even specialised in adoption or surrogacy. Doulas are there to facilitate all types of transitions.


Emätin

Vagina

Magical organ with superpowers that some men fear. It is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft lining which connects the uterus to the outside world.


Epiduraali

Epidural

Injection of anaesthetic and/or analgesic in the epidural space.


Episiotomia / välilihan leikkaus

Episiotomy

A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery or to enlarge the vaginal opening during a vacuum-assisted delivery. Traditionally, it used to be practised systematically to avoid tears. Since then, evidence based medicine has refuted the theory and tears, healing faster and better, are preferred to a surgical cut that can lead to further damages and challenge the mother’s quality of life.


Gua sha kampa

Gua sha comb

A traditional Chinese medicine massage tool that looks like a comb, a fish, an heart, made of jade, quartz, bone or wood. It is use to scrap or spoon the skin. A way to relax, release tensions, during pregnancy, birth and after.


Hieronta

Massage

One of the tools we have to relieve pain, relax, and stimulate oxytocin production.


Hypnoosi

Hypnosis

Self induced state of relaxation. Technique to enter and stay in a safe bubble. The mind-body fantastic relationship.


Häpyhuulet

Labia

Lips of the vulva.


Häpykieli / Klitoris

Clitoris

The female organ that focuses on pleasure only. Its full shape has recently been discovered.


Ilokaasu

Laughing gas

Nitrous oxide (nitrox) is used as a pain relief during labour. The birthing person inhales the gas through a mask. The gas formula is N2O.


Imetys

Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding

Gastronomic exchange of oxytocin. Soothes and reassures baby. Helps mummy/parent to get a restorative sleep, bond with their baby and so much more.


Imukuppi

Vacuum extractor

The vacuum device uses a soft cup that attaches to the baby’s head with suction and guides the baby’s expulsion through the birth canal.


Istukka

Placenta

The placenta (a type of cake, in Latin) is a temporary organ that connects the developing fetus via the umbilical cord to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, thermo-regulation, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply; to fight against internal infection; and to produce hormones which support pregnancy.


Joogamatto

Yoga mat

Thick mat with a grip which doesn’t damage the knee caps.


Jumppapallo

Birthing ball (gym ball)

It helps you dance your baby down, sitting. You can also hug it while your doula gently sifts your belly or shakes your apples with her rebozo.


Kaksoset

Twins

Two for the price of one birth. Twice more love and twice more everything.


Kalvojen pyörittely

Membranes sweeping (stripping)

Mechanical labour induction technique. A doctor or midwife will use a gloved hand to sweep the inside of the cervix in a circular motion.


Keisarinleikkaus / sektio

C-section / Belly birth

This is one of the possible entrances for babies into our world. This is a surgery which can be elective (elektiivinen keisarileikkaus), urgent (kiireellinen keisarileikkaus) or emergent (hätäkeisarileikkaus).


Keskenmeno

Miscarriage

When the pregnancy involuntarily stops.


Kivunlievitys

Pain relief

Tools, medical or non-medical, to alleviate the pain.


Kohdunkaula

Cervix

The womb’s turtle neck.


Kotisynnytys

Homebirth

Birth in your own very familiar nest. Your bed, your fridge, your shower, your smell and friendly bacteria.


Kyykky

Squatting

An art and a strategic position for pregnancy and birth. Relaxes the pelvic floor and strengthens the legs. And it doesn’t press your tail bone, making more room for baby’s exit.


Kätilö

Midwife

Midwives are medically trained to assist families during pregnancy and birth. They also deal with female reproductive health and menopause.


Lantionpohja

Pelvic floor

The layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs (uterus, bladder and bowels). It is often referred as a hammock.


Lapsivesi

Amniotic fluid

Protective water contained in the amniotic sac. Not pee. Not discharge. It is slightly shiny and smells sweet like an areola. Coincidence? I don’t think so.


Lääkäri

Doctor

You might meet one if you encounter challenges before or during the birth. If not, you’ll meet one at your post partum check up, about 6 weeks after birth.


Mikrobiomi

Microbiome

The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live on the skin and inside the human body.


Nänni

Nipple

The female part of the breast that is too often censured on social media.


Nännien stimulointi

Nipple stimulation

When nipples are stimulated (with the person’s consent) the body might secrete oxytocin, which relaxes or excites the person and can help induce the start of labour if the conditions are present.


Napanuoran myöhäinen katkaisu

Delayed cord clamping

It’s when you wait for your baby’s umbilical cord to be empty of blood (and nutrients, ferritin, oxygen etc.) and stop pulsate, so your baby gets the maximum amount of goodness to thrive. (3-10mn).


Napanuora

Umbilical cord

The conduit connecting the placenta to the navel of the fetus or baby. Contains two arteries and one vein buried in Wharton’s jelly. The average length is 55cm but it can rarely be longer than 1m and in this case the midwife must bake a cake for her colleagues. That’s the tradition.


Närästys

Heartburn

Heartburn is a painful burning feeling in the chest or throat. It happens when stomach acid backs up into the oesophagus. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone causes the valve to relax, which can increase the frequency of heartburns.


Oksitosiini

Oxytocin

The love hormone involved in love making but also labour progress, breastfeeding and bonding.


Pähkinäpallo

Peanut ball

This is peanut shaped ball created for pilates but used more and more during labour to mobilise the pelvis while lying down. Placed between the legs of the birthing person, the peanut ball can significantly shorten the length of the second phase of labour.


Peräaukko

Anus

The beginning of the end.


Peräpukama

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels inside or around the rectum and anus. During pregnancy, piles (just like varicose veins) can occur because hormones make the veins relax. Fortunately, they retract once the baby is born.


Perätila

Breech

When your baby is ready to enter the world bum/feet/foot first.


Pre-eklampsia

Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition. Symptoms might be: high blood pressure, blurred vision, headaches, swelling.


Prostaglandiini

Prostaglandins

They are synthesised within the human foetal membranes (amnion and chorion) and decidua and act to ripen the cervix, change membrane structure and contract the myometrium (middle layer of the uterine wall).


Raskaus

Pregnancy

A pregnant woman's placenta produces hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), also called the pregnancy hormone. If you're pregnant, an urine pregnancy test can detect this hormone in your urine from about 1 day after your first missed period.


Raskausdiabetes

Gestational diabetes

Too much sugar in the blood during pregnancy. The condition disappears after childbirth.


Rebozo

Rebozo

A beautiful shawl traditionally made in Mexico or Guatemala to carry merchandise and children. It is also a piece of fashion. Traditional midwives use the shawl to massage pregnant women and new mothers. They also use this tool to help the baby rotate and descend in the birth canal in an optimal position.


Repeytyminen

Tearing

When pressure and pushes lacerates the perineum, vulva or vagina. Some tears require stitches, others don’t. A tear heals faster than a straight cut (episiotomy) because it follows the fibres of your skin tissue.


Sikiökalvojen puhkaisu

Rupture of membranes

Rupture of membranes (ROM) or amniorrhexis is a term used during pregnancy to describe a rupture of the amniotic sac. Normally, it occurs spontaneously at full term during labour. Rarely, it doesn’t happen and the baby is born “en caul”. Rupture of the membranes is known colloquially as "breaking the water”. Membranes are sometimes artificially broken to kick start or accelerate labour.


Spinaali

Spinal

Single dose anaesthetic injection in the spinal fluid. Acts quickly in numbing the saddle area. The risks are hypotension, difficulty to push, severe itching, headache, medication crosses the baby bloodstream, challenged breastfeeding.


Supistus

Contractions

Oh, the c-word. Call them “surges” just like Ina May Gaskin does. Suddenly these waves are more pleasurable.


Synnytyksen käynnistys

Birth induction

When nature is assisted by the human’s touch.


Synnytys

Birth

A new beginning.


Synnytys laskettu aika

Due date

Are babies just like industrial pizzas? Let’s talk about an approximate due month, shall we?


Synnytysosasto

Delivery ward

This is the ward dedicated to birth.


Syntymärefleksi

Fetal ejection reflex (FER)

This is a natural process happening during an undisturbed birth. High levels of adrenaline can trigger the foetal ejection reflex. The surge triggers strong, rapid contractions which move the baby from the uterus and into the birth canal. The pressure of the baby in the vagina stimulates the Ferguson reflex, which is the uncontrollable expulsion of the baby, which happens when nerves in the pelvis are stimulated as the baby descends through the birth canal. This biofeedback sends messages to the brain to release even more oxytocin, resulting in two or three strong contractions. The baby is born quickly and easily without voluntary pushing from the mother. More about FER.


Testi

Test

Like in ovulation test, pregnancy test, amniotic fluid test, GBS+ test.


Tens-laite

Tens machine / Tens unit

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Electrodes are sticked on your skin and you press a button to deliver an electric shock. It feels like thousands needles. Another pain tricker that makes endorphins kick in.


Ultraääni

Ultrasound

Type of imagery that uses sound waves to produces pictures of the inside of the body. It helps dating the pregnancy and the child’s healthy development. In Finland there are 2 routine ultrasounds: the early pregnancy ultrasound scan, (week 10+0 – 13+6) and the structural ultrasound scan (week 19–21).


Vyöterapia

Reflexology

Similar to acupressure but specialised in hands and feet. Each spot is linked to an organ or system.


Äitiysloma

Maternity leave

In Finland, you get a maternity allowance for 105 working days minimum (4 months). After the maternity leave, there is the parental leave to share as you agree with the partner. More info on Kela’s website.

© Ilmatar Doula 2020. 

Ilmatar

Doula

Tel: 040 145 9457

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