Part II – As a new doula starting out, please remember that the fee decision is yours and yours alone. No matter what you decide to do and how you base that decision, there will be someone that tells you what you are doing is wrong. Do what is right for you.
Please review Part I – Setting Reasonable Fees.
Providing Pro Bono Services
- You may get more births sooner than later as there are many people who need the service that cannot afford it.
- Certification may not take as long as if you were charging a full fee.
- It can be personally fulfilling to do such meaningful work for those that are in need.
- You can build experience and gain valuable professional connections.
- Everyone deserves the same standard of care and the same shot at achieve birth goals.
- You may not get any births because no one believes you can get something for nothing.
- When there is no exchange, there may be no value. People may not keep appointments or may not call in labour. You put in more than than you take get out of it.
- Burnout. Period.
- Sustainability and viability of perpetual on call services is very difficult to maintain and you may not have a lot of other doulas willing to work in partnership or as a back up.
- It will cost you money to volunteer. Gas, childcare, parking, time spent, it all adds up.
- If someone can’t afford a doula, there are other ways to help them that may serve them better than professional labour support.
- There are some doulas that will say that offering pro bono services devalues the profession and undercuts your colleagues.
This point is debatable among doulas since your pro bono client was never going to hire a more expensive doula. Many other professionals offer pro-bono services, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, chiropractors, plumbers, graphic designers, etc.
Successive Fee Building
- As you gain experience and knowledge, you feel more confident asking for more money.
- People understand the fact that you are a newer doula who is building skills and are paying for services that may not be at the same level as a more seasoned labour support professional. You are free to ask questions, make mistakes and learn on the job and people understand that.
- Most jobs will hire at one rate and build from a starting place. No one gets hired for a new job at top tier.
- There is still an undercut of service fees in your surrounding community.
- What do you charge repeat clients in the coming years?
- It may be difficult to handle a fee discussion when working for a former client’s friend or family member and your fee has gone up substantially. Can make for awkward conversations.
- How quickly do you raise your fees, is it time served or births attended?
Barter Or Exchange Of Services
- There is a general acceptance that someone else’s goods or services have value and if there is a fair exchange, and it works for both parties, it can work well.
- What if the labour is ridiculously short? Or long? Or surgical? Avoiding one party feeling like they did not end up at the good end of the deal can be tough to manage. What if the painter doesn’t finish the job or the organic market has a poor crop output year?
- Give me the cash, I will buy your goods. Business is business.
Charge the Full Going Rate
- You are trained, but not yet certified. You still have all the skills necessary to provide professional labour support. Every doula, no matter how long he/she has been working learns from every birth. You are no different.
- You are not a student. You are in the process of certifying. That’s different.
- Your time, your expertise, your wisdom, your care: it is all got great value and worth.
- A lot of doulas worked many years and attended a lot of births and have done hundreds of hours of continuing education to charge the full going rate. They feel they have earned that position and the newer doulas does not have the same skill set to offer.
Check out the other installments of this important series.