Please enjoy this guest post from Sarah Haselton, a doula in Linden, VA. We met when she lived in Knoxville, TN and while I was sad she moved I also knew she would serve many families in VA.
I found myself pregnant in August of 2012, shortly after moving in with my husband’s parents. It could not have been worse timing! My husband had just started a job working at Wal-Mart and I had left all of my contacts behind in Tennessee to start a new life closer to family. We were flat broke, no DIRT broke. We had zapped all of our savings between working on getting my husband through college and poor spending choices at the beginning of our marriage. So on a wing and prayer we moved in with my husband’s parents with $2000 in our pockets and our few possessions we couldn’t bare to part with. Thankfully we didn’t get rid of our daughter’s baby clothing, bedding or various baby related items. (More on that later.)
So knowing I wanted to have a home birth in order to increase my odds of having my coveted VBAC I started doing research well before I was pregnant. I knew I wanted to be a doula also and felt like knowing the birth workers in my community was a great place to start that journey. So, like I did while I lived in Knoxville, I started calling around and asking questions. Somehow I was placed in contact with a few midwives and shortly there after I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test. To say I was shocked (okay not that shocked, we weren’t exactly as careful as we should have been!) is an understatement.
When faced with this new life we had to make some tough choices. Choices that involved money. That dreaded “M” word has followed us around EVERYWHERE for the last 5 years! Luckily I have a spouse who understood how important it was to me that I had a positive birth experience the second time around. He also understood the value of our birth team and that the peace of mind that came with that team was priceless to me. I’ll admit that when we were faced with a $3500 bill just to give birth when going to the hospital would have been paid 100% by Medicaid, we thought twice, thrice and four times. Like I said though, it was that important to me. Later my husband admitted that seeing the peace our team gave me was worth it to him as well.
So, you may be asking, how does one on such a small budget afford midwifery care or even a doula. Well, here are some ideas I have for you (many of them I implemented myself!) I am living proof that if something is deemed important enough, you just find a way to make it work.
1. Call your insurance company.
Yes, I know this sounds silly, but bear with me on this thought. You NEVER know what your insurance will pay in for your birth. Some states even have ways of helping get a doula paid for through Medicaid. Virginia is one of them! There was some investigation work on my part, but it CAN happen! It never hurts to submit a claim, the worse they can tell you is NO!
2. Recycle Cans
Many states have programs that will allow you to recycle tin cans for money. It may not be a lot of money, but something is better than nothing. Bonus, you help the environment AND if you walk along the road collecting can get a decent workout doing this!
3. Consign old baby items
Our daughter was crazy blessed with clothes. I’m serious! My daughter had an insane amount of clothing, some items she never even wore! I found a high end consignment shop and went through her baby clothes. I chose my favorite items to keep, kept the gender neutral items (We knew we would have more children in the future. This just made sense to us.) and the rest got shipped off the the consignment store. It made our very first payment to the midwife!
4. Do odd jobs
I know this is tough, especially if you already work full time or are busy taking care of small children already, but it can be done, even while pregnant. Consider doing an elderly person’s laundry, babysitting for a couple looking for a night out, mowing lawns, or picking up housekeeping for a while. Now I understand this isn’t realistic for some people, but for those of you that it is, ask around. I found some odd jobs through members of our church and even mowed one of neighbor’s yards, granted only one time, to help pay for our bills.
5. Cut out unnecessary spending.
I know, easier said than done. Trust me, we enjoy that meal out FAR too frequently, but when it came closer to my due date and my bill wasn’t paid in full we were more cautious about this action. I got rid of extras as much as we could.
6. Use a tax return
Ultimately THIS is what paid the cost of our birth team for us. We had to wait a while after the birth of our son (only about two weeks) to pay our balance in full, but our midwife was understanding about WHY we had to wait this long. She knew we were hard up for money and never pressed the issue. She knew we meant it when we said we would pay her in full.
7. Ask your friends and family to donate
Gofundme.com has a great program out there to help families fund projects. What better way than to tell your family that instead of items you don’t need for your baby, to donate to your birth. You might be surprised what people will give you. Especially if it is a small “bill” like a doula!
8. Set up a payment plan
Just like any major expense that a young couple can have, your birth team is an investment. Setting up a payment plan with your doula can help you to pay the balance in full and also give you some accountability. Not only this, but it can make the goal seem far more attainable if you break your payments into smaller chunks. Often times seeing a payment in a manageable sum can get you over that mental block of cost.
9. Sell unnecessary books, movies and items.
When I found out I was pregnant I realized how much STUFF I had just laying around. Even with moving across state lines into a smaller space I still had a lot of stuff that wasn’t needed. I found online garage sale sights to sell my items to and those extra dollars added up.
10. Use work bonuses
Some employers issue bonus checks to their employees. If your employer is one of these, consider using your bonus to invest in your birth. You WON’T be sorry!
Bottom line is there are ways to afford your doula if you really want it. Instead of making excuses, find a way to make it work. My husband and I worked very hard to make the most of our small sum of money monthly and until recently had been living off of that small budget with the help of family. We knew how important our birth was and we knew we wanted to make it work, even if it meant giving way to some of the more luxurious items.
You can find Sarah Haselton at https://www.facebook.com/lifesblessingsdoulaservices or http://doulasarahheselton.wix.com/lifes-blessings and if you are in her region of VA you would love to utilize her services.
All Rights Reserved, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula, 2014
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