Preparing for Birth on a Budget Without Losing Your Options

 photo by  jade chiu

photo by jade chiu

Real talk. We can sit and talk all day about childbirth education classes and doulas and midwives and birth centers, but the costs of pregnancy and birth are daunting even when we're just thinking about the traditional basics. So what's the solution? How do we pay for our empowered births when the budget is tight?

Not Pregnant Yet?
Have you thought starting to save today for your future pregnancy? Talk to your bank about smarter savings options like certificates, comparison shop and consider switching banks based on savings capacity, and check out apps like Qapital or Acorns that help you save and invest.

Get on the Phone with your Birth Location Options
You can search online for hours and that still may not prepare you for the costs outside your front door. Depending on where you live and what birth locations you're interested in cost can vary greatly, so the best thing you can do is get on the phone with the place you want to give birth and ask, "Who can I talk to about fees and insurance?"

Can't get someone on the phone? Most places offer tours. Attend a tour and ask your questions while you're there.

When you're having these conversations, ask about packages, discounts, sliding scale offerings, and payment plans. You never know what options there may be until you ask!

Get on the Phone with your Insurance Provider
If you have private insurance, now's the time to get on the phone with them and learn what they cover and how much. If you're uninsured and you qualify for Medicaid, apply and make your calls to birth locations with that in mind.

If you're uninsured ask hospitals about sliding scales and payment plans, talk to birth centers (which tend to have lower costs generally) about their payment options, and get connected to your local health department and other clinics that may offer free or affordable care options.

Get on the Phone with Birth Class Providers
In many cities, you can find a variety of options for birth education classes, from offerings at hospitals to birth centers to birth-centered organizations and collectives, to individuals with their own small businesses. Costs can vary from free to over $250 per couple easily.

Don't let overwhelming numbers on a website scare you away. If you're interested in what looks like a higher-quality birth education class near you with a big price tag, get on the phone and ask the organizer's if they offer discounts, payment plans, or scholarships. They often do.

Explore your Doula and Doula Group Options
Like birth classes, these days there are a variety of ways you can connect with and hire doulas. Comparison shop on directories like DoulaMatch, or the Sista Midwife directory if you're specifically looking for a Black doula, or Radical Doula if you're looking for volunteer doulas. Search Google and ask on Facebook and around your friend group!

And just like the above, talk to specific doulas and groups about the options they offer. Payment plans, discounts, sliding scales, bartering. The answer's always no until you ask.

Get Creative and Specific with your Birth Registry
If a traditional registry works for you, great! But maybe instead you could start a Generosity page and list items and services there that people in your life can donate money toward. For example, want placenta encapsulation but don't feel like that's an expense you can put money toward right now? Put it on there! Interested in postpartum doula care but can't save up enough for that and the birth center you're already saving for? Put it on there!

To Wrap Up...
If you're used to living on tight budgets, you may be used to the reality of conversations that sound like, "You want a doula? Does it look like we have doula money?" True, we can't always get what we want and sometimes we have to make due with less. But access to basic education, safety and healthcare in birth shouldn't be considered a luxury. And just because you can't always get what you want, that doesn't mean that there isn't more available to you than you expect.

Also, when seeking care at lower costs, remember that you have just as much decision-making power over your body and just as much right to healthcare that meets your needs respects your human rights as anyone else.