I’ve been a birth and postpartum doula for almost a decade. In that time (I’m going to sound like a grandma here), I’ve seen an enormous spike in the amount of unnecessary junk parents are told that they “can’t live without” once baby arrives. Oh, and of course you need a 5x week night nurse, right?
I can’t believe the amount of money and time new parents spend on things that frankly aren’t that helpful, while not having many of their primary needs met and stress only amplified. Like, come on, a $1,500 bassinet that plugs your baby’s wiggles into the iCloud and sets off an alarm when your baby coughs?! Ummmm no thank you, Black Mirror.
Believe it or not, as a human race, we’re good at making babies. That’s why there are 7+billion of us wandering around. American parents are necessarily “bad” at making babies or keeping our babies alive, either. We don’t need fancy machines, ten types of bottles, babies taking a bunch of supplements, or apps full of useless data to help us take care of our little ones.
Now, I am a particularly low-stuff person in general. I don’t like clutter and I don’t like being surrounded by plastic. I realize that many of my clients are not that way in their lives, generally. And some of these gadgets might have made their friend’s lives a bit better when their kids arrived, so I’m not discounting that. However, I do take a lot of issue with the wastefulness of new parent life as well as the very legitimate health and mental well being concerns that I see arise from the contemporary parenting culture. And IT’S SO EXPENSIVE!
Trying to market my postpartum counseling services is tricky. I am aware of what a luxury it is to have a private class from a doula on the nit-picky parts of postpartum. However, I feel passionately (and know from experience) that families are really seeking something like this. They are bombarded with so much information and no clue what to take in and what to trash. And new parenting culture is so so so full of judgement and risk talk and fear. Paying $35-75 an hour for an expert to help you in your home is seen as exorbitant, though it’s seen as a necessary and lacking component of a healthy childbirth experience in evidence-based studies and in countries where this sort of care is recognized as valuable and included in standard care. I can say honestly that most of my clients are spending as much on me as they spend on stuff that sits in a pile unused or is used just once or twice in the first several months of their child’s life. I want to help families not go down that expensive and wasteful rabbit hole, while helping to connect them with the type of care they really need by a care provider who is in line with their visions of parenting.
My recommended package, which includes meeting you in person in pregnancy, costs $450. Let’s see how easy it is to spend that same amount on unnecessary items:
The Lotus Bassinet is $300. I have never seen a baby sleep comfortably in this (newborn babies DON’T sleep in giant, flat contraptions) and it’s huge and in the way for most families. I’ve never worked with a family who hasn’t switched away from this sleeper after a week or two.
The Frida Baby Bundle of Joy set is $50. All I can say about the Frida company is they have mastered marketing. I have strong opinions against nose suction after growing up surrounded by speech pathologists and strongly urge my clients to use gentler methods of booger extraction. No baby has ever died of a booger, after all. And the nail trimmer…an emory board from a drug store is $0.30. The Windi is great…if your baby is on heavy supplementation and hasn’t pooed in two weeks ONLY. This kit mostly stays in a pile of half open boxes in the homes I am in daily. It’s an expensive waste.
The least expensive bottle sterilizers I could find were $20 and most families I’ve seen have the $40-80 versions around. Oh Lordy, do I have thoughts on these. You’re putting large amounts of melted plastic directly into your baby’s body with absolutely no known benefits in risk reduction from harmful bacteria. Trust me here, I have sought out evidence to prove me wrong about infections and sterilization of bottles. Often. Over the course of a decade. I have searched and come up empty handed. However, the links to how harmful it is to have leeched plastics in our food is compelling and long standing, and there is a good amount of evidence on why we should limited plastic exposure specifically in infants. Yet, every family I work with has a sterilizing system of some sort, even though not a one has been able to tell me where they heard they should be doing this or why. Most people have at least two systems in their homes or one giant one, so we’ll put the cost of this at $50 conservatively.
Wipe Warmers are about $25. What nonsense these are. Little mold factories. Your baby doesn’t give a crap (pun intended) about the wipes being warm. These are hot, moist, expensive, plastic, toxic wastes of time. One more thing to worry about filling and cleaning for nothing.
We’re already easily at $425, so I’ll just have the extra $25 be unnecessary clothes and toys your infant will never wear or use, but you will inevitably purchase or be given.
That was easy, huh? I intentionally picked things that are on the lower range of what families spend on infant items well before baby arrives. It’s not that uncommon that the $450 is spent on just one item most parents will never even get around to using. This is why amazing stores like Chloe’s Closet even exist. I can help you find free or low-cost options through insurance coverage, as well as helping direct you toward more conscious options (and even connect you with the amazing Friday Apaliski and her environmental concierge work).
You need very very little in terms of stuff to have a comfortable and safe postpartum. What you WILL need and what is often lacking in postpartum support comes from care providers. That $150 bottle sterilizer could get you 3-5 hours of postpartum doula support that could be the critical thing for getting over a breastfeeding hump, connecting you to a pelvic floor specialist, help prevent you from spending 4 hours one day rushing to the pediatrician for a very normal infant situation, prevent you from getting mastitis from engorgement, or teach you fundamental sleep tricks that get your baby napping more regularly so you can nap too. Guess what, she’ll probably wash your bottles, too, maybe even sterilize them in a pot of boiling water on your stove, if you really want that.
Another way my consultations can help you save major bucks is through counseling you through finding a postpartum doula who fits your style and needs and then giving you realistic expectations for how dense of a contract you’ll need. Even if you have all the money in the world to throw at a doula, and even if it seems amazing to have someone around the clock with you, there are a number of reasons why you don’t need to spend a college tuition on postpartum doula coverage in the first six months. For too many, this is the vision in mind when people talk about postpartum doula support — that’s it’s dense and expensive and too much of a luxury — so parents either go overboard seeking the same coverage they heard worked for someone else and being disappointed or just forgo care all together.
There truly exists a system of doula care that works for each family. Working with me and utilizing my decade of experience as well as my connections within the wider doula community, we can break down your needs and what to expect from care to find the perfect fit for you. Quite honestly, I talk most people out of this crazy dense coverage, saving families an enormous amount of money, and linking doulas to families who are less likely to terminate contracts sooner Adding hours on later is always an option — even if not entirely with the same doula — and contract disputes are just too much of a nightmare for all involved. I teach contract writing workshops to doulas and have heard a myriad of good and bad experiences and feel really equipped to help out on the parenting side of this equation. I’d say I save families $1,500 in doula coverage on average and there hasn’t been a single doula who’s taken my class who hasn’t reported back that they used their contract adjustments in a fee resolution within 6 months of working with me. I want to help trouble shoot these concerns sooner than later for everyone’s sake.
Asking for this service within your baby registry or getting a few friends together to have a class with me can save you a bundle, too. My speaking rates are $100 an hour for up to 10 people and can be split however works best within your group. If your little one is already here and you’re feeling overwhelmed and lost, I have a discounted package for you, too. I even offer package that focus specifically on sleep support — aka every parents #1 question and concern in postpartum.
Hope you’ll meet with me and that I can help you have a joyful, empowered, and less anxiety-riddled entry way into new parenting.