Why Birth Services are Expensive and 5 Ways You Can Afford It

Finances are probably easily the biggest road block when it comes to a family desiring to hire a luxury services like a doula or a birth photographer. I'm willing to bet there's also a lot of confusion as to why it is as expensive as it is. It is without a doubt the most common reason I am turned down by a family desiring my services. I want to explain not only why this is such a large investment, but also ways to combat the expense that most birth professionals have the ability to offer you with...

Why Birth Services are Expensive and 5 Ways You Can Afford It

1. Understand the value

The first thing I want to point out is something that is probably not going to make me very many friends, but here goes nothing:

Doula services and birth photography should cost you a lot of money.

Still friends? Awesome. We will dig in deeper then. If a doula and/or birth photographer is charging you a similarly figured fee as they would charge for a portrait session or a simple back rub, then there are a number of things wrong with this picture (no pun intended). I will help bring that into perspective for you, keep reading.

The service a doula can provide along with professional birth photography is something you should not only want, but you might very well need.

This is something that brings you better birth outcomes AND clarity back into fuzzy memories. Both doulas and birth photographers have the ability to allow moms to make sense of their birth memories and bring healing to those tough moments. Photographs and films allow families to re-live such pivotal moments in their history from generation to generation. If you don't think you need this kind of service in your life, then I think that spending the money on this will always be an issue for you. If you do agree that this is something you need, then I'm certain we can find ways to make it work for you and make it an option. We all do this when things are important enough to us, when we come across something that we have just got to have.

It baffles me a little bit that wedding photography prices are automatically widely accepted in our society, and in most cases expected, to cost upwards of thousands of dollars. In fact, this baffles me quite a great amount. A wedding photographer knows what date, time, and how many hours they have agreed to work for and exactly when they get to go home that SINGLE big day. They are committed to that day and will be there for you. Now, flipping the scenario, another single big day: the day your baby is born. A doula and/or birth photographer has set aside anywhere from 4-6 WEEKS to be committed to dropping anything they are doing within that time frame to make it to your side in a moments notice. This means that you are going to find that most birth professionals do not travels very far from your birth location during the weeks surrounding your due date. If you are reading this, it is super likely you already know that babies come when they are ready to and in most cases, they have their own timelines. They're also going to be risking missing out on important personal events and milestones to attend, support, and document your birth. Now add the reality of the fact that it is impossible to gauge ahead of time just how long your birth experience will last. A birth worker knows that it's very possible that they will be away from home from anywhere between 4 hours and 40+ hours. Birth is completely unpredictable, whether you are scheduling a cesarean or not.

I feel the need to mention the fact that many amazing doulas and birth photographers sometimes utilize the need for a backup to cover for them in the event that a birth goes on for an extended amount of time and/or an emergency arises in their own personal life, etc. This is not something that makes agreeing to documenting your birth story any less of a commitment, and most definitely does not make the investment change, either. This is an additional cost that may need to be absorbed by a birth professional, having the ability to ask for quality help when the need arises.

I have not even mentioned the fact that birth professionals invest thousands of dollars into their supplies, gear, and continued education. Anyone in this line of work is likely committed to the cost it can take on us financially and mentally.

There is so much more that goes into supporting and documenting your birth story than just hip-squeezes and picture snapping.


2. Utilize a gift registry

Your friends and family are likely longing to play a positive role in the new life you will soon bring into the world. What better way to share this experience with them than giving them the opportunity to contribute towards the kind of gift that will last for the rest of your lives and be passed down through generations? I can’t think of any better way I would rather help a loved one. Supporting you in preparing for the birth of your baby with professional support and vivid memories to hold onto forever is the ultimate gift.
Can’t visualize what I mean? View an example Gift Registry here:


3. Utilize a payment plan

The earlier you book a birth professional, the better for everyone involved. This gives us a chance to build a relationship together, as well as increase the likelihood that I’m available for your due date. It also allots months to make payments leading up to the time that I go on call for you. This is a fantastic way to make this affordable for you.
If you contacted me and made your first payment at 12 weeks gestation, you’d have 5 more months to utilize a payment plan with, and have a possible payment of $200/month-$1500+/month, depending on services chosen. The option is completely up to you. I personally offer my services as an a la carte style so that clients can choose whatever best suites them.

4. Hire a doula-tographer

I’ll get this out of the way now: this is a controversial topic. Lacey Barrett, a successful rockstar birth photographer and doula in Australia puts it perfectly:

Some people say that you can’t do both at the same time because your doula role requires 100% and your documenting requires 100%. While this is true, I beg to differ. The key is communication. When you have a mom that requests both services, you must ask them, “What is more important?” because there may come a time where she needs you more than she needs pictures and then you find yourself in a pickle, especially during transition. I always ask my moms what service is more important to them, and then we begin to discuss what the two ends of the spectrum will look like. We discuss in detail if they prefer my doula support over images, then they may have a little bit of a small gap in their images. I then go on to explain if images are more important to her, and I can see she needs support, I’ll go in and let the birth partner know to grab their hand and really offer some extra support while I take the picture. If they aren’t ok with this, then we may need to investigate having two people dedicated to their individual jobs. While that may be more costly, it is a way that serves the mother the most and that may be the best option for her. I have never had a mom in this scenario who has not opted to hire me for both services. Why? Because the value that you are offering makes it way too amazing to pass up. Pay you an extra fee? Or pay someone else a full fee for birth photography?
— Lacey Barratt

For me, personally…I’ve never felt more at peace in my purpose in life than filling the role of documenting a birth and supporting a family as their doula. You are paying one person to be on call for you, instead of two, which saves you money. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for many families.

Having started my birth career as a photographer, I have the second nature skills to choose wisely, accurately, and quickly amidst the rapidly changing birth environments I have found myself in.

I documented this birth utilizing both photography and filming, all the while supporting them as their doula:

5. know what you really need before baby comes (hint: that crib will likely be an expensive laundry basket)

I know, trust me, I know…the perfect nursery feels like the top priority when you are planning for your first baby. I’d like to challenge you to ask a question to every single mother you know: “How much did you use your nursery during your baby’s first year of their life?”
Then, ask them this: “How many questions did you ask and pictures did you take during your baby’s first year of life?”
Seriously, go ask. I’ll wait.

Perspective and priority check, right? There are so many things we think we need when we are preparing for a baby and as it turns out, you probably already have most of the things you really need. Breastfeeding? Guess what, you probably have boobs for that (you will want burp cloths, though, those are a necessity, I’m not totally nuts). Diapers? Literally every store carries them, unless you live out in the boonies, you have access to them any time. Where will they sleep? Call me crazy, but co-sleeping can be done safely, and literally saved my sanity with BOTH of my children and felt 100% normal to do. That baby just spent the first part of their life (nearly a year) literally attached to you. The crib works for some people, but I’m willing to bet most babies would prefer you to be closer to them. If we asked them and they had the ability to answer, they’d probably tell us so. Oh, wait…babies do communicate with us from birth. Who would have thought?!

Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is important. Yes, your story matters.


Why Birth Services are Expensive and 5 Ways You Can Afford It