Affording the Birth You Want

Many times over I have heard something similar to “If only my insurance would cover the childbirth class, doula, that provider or birth location. Then I could have the birth I really want for me and my baby.” That statement sadly says to me that women are settling for a provider, birth location, type of birth even that would not otherwise be chosen.  Even so far as having a repeat cesarean because the insurance covered location or provider does not “allow” VBAC.

So practically how is someone going to get the desired provider, location or birth? First think of appealing to the insurance company to add a specific location (even home) or provider (even a  home birth provider) to the plan. This may or may not come to fruition, but unless the process is undertaken it isn’t even a possibility. Second, think outside the insurance box.  Be creative. I am a believer that almost 100% of the time there is a way. It may not be easy, simple, or lack stress but likely possible.

Here are some of my ideas for paying for the birth location, care provider, education, or doula support really desired.

Ask for family, friends, co-workers to donate to fund(s) in lieu of routine shower gifts (you will likely not use most of that “stuff” anyway no matter how much you think you will).

Trimming Down = Money Savings

  • Satellite/Cable tv – Lower or cancel service.
  • Cell phone – lower minutes, negotiate new fee structure, change plans.
  • Household utilities – Lower thermostat, take short showers, heat or cold proof home.
  • House phone – Get rid of all extras on phone that you don’t need or go VoIP. Even set-up answering machine.
  • Food – Grocery shop sales only (no impulse buying), use coupons, eat at home, brown bag to work, no more fancy coffee drinks.
  • Entertainment – Get Netflix instead of going out to the movies, visit with friends or family in their homes or yours.
  • Shopping – Cut back on extras you do not need to live.
  • Vehicle – Car pool whenever possible, only run multiple errands together, walk if possible, use public transportation is available.
  • Housing – Move to a lower rent area or to a smaller home. Even consider moving in with family to maximize savings.

Extra Cashflow

  • Sell any unneeded items via yard sale or something akin to Craig’s List. This can apply to second vehicle as well.
  • Take on a second job that can be done from home or even with a multi-level company.
  • Ask husband or partner to temporarily take on a second job.
  • Do you gourmet cook,  write, musically talented, sew, knit, paint or craft? You may be able to sell your creations or services.


  • Barter
  • Ask for payment plan.
  • Look for less expensive supplies such as a “fishy pool” versus renting an AquaDoula.
  • Choose a birth center or a home birth as the cost is significantly less than even a no-intervention natural hospital birth. Also your prenatal care is included in the fee unlike a planned hospital delivery.
  • Hire a training doula. Often a lower fee.
  • Start a savings account before you are pregnant.
  • Plan ahead and pay down any existing debt prior to getting pregnant or in early pregnancy.

I hope some “light bulb” moments are had and there is encouragement in the ideas. There is almost always a way.

If I have left anything off the lists, please feel free to leave a comment and I will add.


  1. Anisa on February 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Also – consider hiring an intern midwife! She’s fully trained, just needs to catch babies under supervision until she’s certfied. She’s usually less expensive then her fully certified counter parts, AND she will come with a certified midwife to the prenatals and birth, so it’s like two midwives for LESS than the price of one!

  2. Rachel on May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I want to second bartering and payment plans; also ask about sliding scales. Even if the care provider, CBE, or doula you want to hire doesn’t mention it, most are very open to helping families have the birth and support that they desire to have. As a doula I’m more than willing to barter, make a payment plan or consider lowering my fee for someone who truly doesn’t have the resources. But please, please, please follow through with your end of the deal, whether it be goods/services or payment following services rendered. Those few who decide not to finish their payment plan ruin it for so many others.

  3. Ashley Fuller on May 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

    If you’re planning on getting pregnant next year, think about setting up your or your partner’s FSA account (if it’s offered through one of your jobs). It pulls money out of your paychecks starting at the beginning of the year, pre-tax, and puts it into an account that you can use to get reimbursed for medical expenses. Our pamphlet said that the average savings from having money set aside pre-tax was $17 out of every $100 set aside.
    Add up how much your hospital and doctor bill will cost you after insurance. Then compare that to how much an alternative provider or doula will cost. My midwife seems expensive since we’re paying her up front, but the total cost is almost identical to what we paid for my daughter’s hospital birth once you add all the bills together. Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way!

  4. Liz Baer on May 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

    This is a great article. With my fourth (and last!) baby, I was able to make payments until my tax return came, at which point I paid the balance.

  5. Maegan on May 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Many insurance companies have a reimbursement process for providers or types of care outside of the “allowed” people/places/things covered. If I paid the cost out of pocket, I just had to submit a claim to my insurance carrier and I was reimbursed 60%. Which is still A LOT better than paying the full cost! And somethings they paid 60% of the “negotiated” cost. If you’ve ever looked at your statement from the insurance company and it has the “cost” and “covered” cost or whatever…Your doc charged $100, but the insurance negotiated it down to $80…You don’t pay the overage, but the doctor was paid $80 for their services instead of $100. If you submit a claim, there is often still a negotiated cost limit, I think of the $500 or so I submitted to my insurance provider $450 was the max they would have paid for that type of procedure anyway…so I got 60% of $450 back. It can be a little confusing…but worth looking in to. I think I ended up having paid about $250 “out of pocket” after all the reimbursing process was said & done. That was for a doctor out of my network who had to “okay” my VBAC.

  6. Racheal on May 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    INCOME TAX RETURN! How many people take that money & go buy a bigger tv, or new video game system or something of the like… well, in the bank it will be there when you need it later in the year. Unless you have an ‘uh oh’ baby then somewhere between planning & birth there will be an income tax return & people usually have a general idea of how much it will be. So even if it isn’t enough to cover the whole thing, put it in the bank & use other methods to add to it. Also, figure if it is in the bank for many months & getting a good interest rate that can easily be 30 or 40 dollars more added to the till.

  7. Mama on May 29, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I was able to get a ‘student’ doula for my first birth. It was free, she had all of her training, just needed births to get her technical certification. My Bradley instructor gave me her information, and she did great. I considered hiring another student for this birth… but I loved my doula (who is now incredible and is booked solid if you try to book past 3 months pregnant.)