For Earth Day, I want to share a few facts with you. First, birth is a natural process that has been going on since the first mammals graced our planet. Second, birth has become extremely medicalized and expensive. As of 2015, 32.0% of births in the United States and 41.4% at Canton-Potsdam Hospital were by cesarean section. The national average cost in 2011 for a cesarean section ranged from $17,859 to $23,923. Hospital vaginal births ranged from $10,657 to $13,749, while a vaginal birth at a birth center was $2,277.
Don’t get me wrong – hospitals are great if something goes wrong. I would much rather see women have access to a cesarean when they need one than to not have access. Medical interventions can mean the difference between mother and baby surviving and not. As a member of the human race and someone who spends a lot of time thinking about and helping laboring women, I know how valuable interventions can be. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should be spending tens of thousands of dollars to give birth. And a woman who is healthy should have the option to give birth in a space that doesn’t come with the costs and risks associated with hospitals.
Why are hospital births so expensive? There are a lot of pieces in play there. Adriana Lozada of the Birthful Podcast has an excellent interview with Nate Dallas that goes over the expenses of birth and how to finance for yours. If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of what you’re paying for and how to afford it, listen to this podcast. But the short answer is that hospital births are expensive because they need to plan for all the possible problems and they also have a lot of waste. All the sterile only-to-be-used-once items need to be purchased for each patient and then thrown away. All those Peri Bottles and non-slip socks cost money. The packaging for your blood draw costs money. The mandatory Pitocin drip following birth to prevent hemorrhaging (standard practice at CPH) costs money.
I don’t think that everyone should be giving birth in a field with no medical support. I also know that we have to work with what we have. But, when many people are able to have complication-free vaginal births, they shouldn’t have to choose between giving birth in a hospital and having an unassisted birth. As of June of this year, we will no longer have a licensed homebirth midwife in St. Lawrence County. We have no birth centers here. There are very few options for how women can give birth and this is absurd.
I’ll end by leaving all the human-rights and feminist arguments aside and just speaking for the Earth. If we want to leave the smallest impact possible on our planet, we need more options for birth here. We and the Earth deserve that.
How do we tackle huge obstacles? Do we just jump in head first and try to accomplish it all at once or is it easier to take small steps, spreading it out over time? As someone who has trained for many endurance events, I know the latter is the best policy! No one should run a marathon without training for it, just as making gradual payments for a doula can make the process much easier to accomplish.
At New Day Doula, we know having a baby today ain’t cheap! Not only do you have many, many prenatal doctor’s appointments and a birth to pay for, but there are all those teeny-tiny clothes, car seats, strollers, cribs, and miscellaneous-extras-that-babies-just-have-to-have to add on! With all this to worry about, it’s no wonder expecting families are a little overwhelmed with the prospect of paying for a doula.
We want to make this easier for you! Having a doula can greatly improve a woman’s overall satisfaction with her labor and delivery. Even ACOG (the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) is promoting the use of a doula! We want you to be able to hire us so that we can help you have the best birth possible. To help you do that, we’ve created an adjustable payment plan. This plan breaks down payments into easier chunks, which you pay every 5 weeks. The one here starts at 20 weeks, but it can be adjusted to start however far along you are.
Small steps can make a daunting prospect seem much more attainable! We are more than happy to help you in this task as well as your birth goals! Just let us know you’d like to consider a payment plan when you schedule your consultation.
The big news over here at New Day Doula is that we’re now officially a partnership! In addition to being doula partners, Rainbow and I jointly own the company and will be handling all business dealings together. This has been in the works pretty much since we first met last March, and it is truly amazing for us and our clients.
Working with a partner is the only way I would ever consider being a doula. Birth doulas are on call whenever they have clients. Most of the time we can narrow that time down to the two weeks before and after the client’s due date, but it isn’t always that clear. No matter how far along she is, if one of our clients goes into labor, we will be there for her and her family. Labor doesn’t wait for the comfort and convenience of anyone. Those of you who are not birth workers can probably imagine how limiting that can be for an individual. Luckily, a partnership means that we are only on-call half of the time and are able to accommodate vacations and family events. This makes supporting pregnant women so much easier.
The partnership model is also really great for our clients. With the OBs at CPH sharing a call schedule, women never know which doctor will end up delivering their baby. It could likely be someone they’ve never met before! Rainbow and I both meet with our clients before the birth and they get to know both of us. We’re both available for phone and message support, which means that our clients will get answers to their questions right away! While only one of us goes to the actual birth, it will definitely be one of us there. There is no need for back-up doulas that our clients don’t know. If one of us has an emergency or is sick, the other is there for our clients.
We are also always coming up with new ideas to better serve our clients and to support women and families in the North Country. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. We are excited about the new possibilities that 2017 will bring. Working as a partnership allows us to vet ideas together to find the best possible solutions.
And above everything else, this partnership means that I get to work with the amazing Rainbow Crabtree not only as a doula partner but also on the business end. It isn’t every day you meet someone who not only cares strongly about pregnant women and new families but who also has a keen head for business and amazing follow-through on ideas. Here’s to many years working together!
I love children. Before I moved to northern New York and became a doula, I taught middle and high school students in Vermont. I babysat when I was young and always knew I'd become a mom some day. There was no question about it -- I had spent a lot of time working with young people and wanted one of my own. I knew this from the very beginning.
I was so confident in my parenting abilities that I (a serious reader and researcher) read absolutely nothing about infant care. I read a book about breastfeeding, but that was the only way I prepared myself for the arrival of my new baby. I figured it would all come naturally. I knew how to relate to kids; how hard could a baby really be?
Well, as I wrote in my previous blog post, I was greatly surprised. Getting to know a new person who is also figuring out how to just LIVE is a pretty overwhelming experience. Add severe sleep deprivation into the mix and you have a recipe for a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt. While there were many good days, the hard moments stand out very strongly in my mind.
But even in the most difficult phases of learning how to be a parent, when each new day started, I felt a sense of relief. We had survived another night. Instead of stressing over getting the baby to sleep, we could just go for a stroller walk to get a croissant. Or lie on the couch and watch a How I Met Your Mother marathon on Netflix. It didn't really matter what we did, but the rising sun made me feel like it would all be okay.
When I decided to become a doula, I wanted to take that sense of confidence that each new day brought me and give that to other parents. It is so hard to know what "good parenting" looks like these days with the overflow of advice and opinions that the Internet brings. But if we take each day at a time, it is much easier. Each new day brings the possibility of a new milestone for your baby and a great cup of coffee for you. We just need to have faith that all things will pass and that life really is about the journey.
New Day Doula
Rainbow and Mary share thoughts on pregnancy, birth, and the parenting journey.