You probably love your work as a birth doula but recognize that there are times in your life when the on-call nature of the work isn’t quite right for you or your family. During these times you may think that your only option is to shutter your practice and go underground.
This is very problematic. One, it takes all of the word-of-mouth and momentum that you’ve built up and it comes smashing down. Two, you lose the income. There is a way to maintain much of your momentum and continue to earn money. You do this by working in a birth doula adjacent field.
Here are some of the most common ways to do this:
A postpartum doula works with individual families to help them in the immediate postpartum time frame. This can usually be scheduled, once you know when the baby is born. You typically have more regular hours, so it could be done when your own children are in school or when it works best for your family. This is a job that is often during daylight hours, but there are some postpartum doulas who work at night, doing overnight shifts, usually for a hefty price tag. According to the Doula Survey, postpartum doulas, on average, earned $34/per, working with two families a month, and worked about 134 hours per family. (Note: Some families will hire you for more than a month.) This does require training to work as a postpartum doula. Families usually pay out of pocket for your services.
Childbirth education offers a lot of options. You can teach in a hospital, in your home, a community center, or even virtually. There are numerous places from which to certify, and which organization you choose may be determined by where you want to work or how you want to get paid. Organizations like Lamaze International accredit programs to train childbirth educators. Together with Sharon Muza, we run the Childbirth Education Project as one of these programs to train Lamaze Educators. There are also organizations that have specific focuses like Hypnobirthing which focuses on hypnosis in birth. Payments can come from families and occasionally insurance.
There are a lot of options under lactation support, from a Certified Lactation Educator (CLE), WIC Peer Counselor to the Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), and the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). There are a variety of jobs and earnings depending on which of these you hold. Some, like IBCLCs, are more likely to work in hospitals and be able to be paid by insurance companies. Others may have their fees paid directly by the clients or a combination. This requires separate training of varying lengths.
While the evidence on placenta encapsulation is scant and more is forthcoming, there are plenty of families using placentas in this manner. Many do not wish to encapsulate the placenta on their own. There are many places popping up to train people in this practice. Families pay usually between $125-425 for this service coming from their own pockets. Depending on where you are, you may also be responsible for transporting the placenta from the place of birth, sometimes at odd hours, depending on local hospital policies. The actual preparation, done at your own home, isn’t bound to specific hours, but usually a time frame of a certain number of days. So there is some flexibility here.
No matter what you choose, there are ways to supplement your income and maintain your place in the birth community while taking a break from birth doula work or just because you want to add these services to your doula business.