A common question new doulas ask is what they should put into their Birth Doula contract and how everything works with a contact. Talking about money and contracts can be uncomfortable for some people and I want to provide as much information as I can to help ease your mind about doula contracts. However, the legalities of a contract can be tricky, and it’s best to get any legal advice from a licensed attorney.
When to have clients sign the contact?
If a prospective client would like to hire you, they should sign the contact and pay any deposit required before any support starts.
Often doulas will have a free consultation with prospective clients to explain their services, and to see if they are a good fit. This is different from a prenatal visit. It should be more of a meet and greet, and finding out what the client expects from the doula and vice versa.
If the client and doula are both in agreement during the consultation the contact can be reviewed and signed then. Collecting any deposit needed with the signed contract.
Sometimes prospective clients like to think about hiring you as their doula after the consultation. That’s normal. Especially since doula fees can be an investment, or if they are trying to decide between doulas.
Plan to follow-up with the prospective client about a week after meeting. If they don’t return the contract, then you should probably move on.
Who gets a signed contract?
Once the contract has been given to you, be sure to sign it as well. The client and yourself should have a copy of the contract signed by both parties. You can either have everyone sign two copies, or make a photocopy of the original.
Also, if you are working with a back-up doula, provide them with a copy of the signed contract too.
What and who to include in the contract?
These are some of the more important aspects to include in your doula contract, however this is not all that can be included. These are suggested starting points for your own contract.
- When the doula’s on-call time starts and if that is 24/7 or set times.
- Names of everyone involved: doula, back-up doula (if applicable), client, and client partner (if applicable).
- How many prenatal visits the doula will provide.
- How long the doula will stay with the client after the birth.
- When the postpartum follow-up should be expected.
- How the client should contact the doula for support and for the birth.
- How long after the call to birth until the doula arrives at the birth.
- Doula fee and deposit amounts, and payment plan.
- How many hours the contract and fee allotts for the birth, and the hourly rate after the contracted amount (if applicable).
- When refunds are given.
- Doula and back-up doula contact information.
- Client details: names, address, phone numbers, birthing facility, estimated due date, and care provider’s name.
Sample contract with doula, Connie Traction and back-up doula, Bertha Doulano.
Notice these contractual choices they made:
- Connie Traction will provide one prenatal visit.
- Connie will be on call 24/7 after the contract is signed and the deposit received.
- Listing Bertha Doulano as the back-up doula
- Postpartum visit will be approximately 10 days after birth.
- The client will call Connie Traction when it’s time to attend the birth and allow 2.5 hours for her to join them.
- Connie Traction will stay one hour after the birth.
- Doula fee is $900 with a $300 nonrefundable deposit.
- Full fee returned if Connie Traction misses the birth.
- Contract covers 12 face-to-face hours with the doula, and any hours after are $30 per hour.
The main point I would like to make is that a doula does not start support for the client until they have a signed contract. No holding the due date open, no turning away other clients, and no on-call support. Doula’s are extremely empathetic and caring, and it can be difficult to tell a person “no” to supporting them if they haven’t signed a contract with you. Boundaries are so important in this line of work, and a signed contract is a good boundary to hold.