You have to make a contract. It’s intimidating. Nobody wants to share theirs. We’re probably all self-conscious about how ours compares to other doulas. What do you put in it? Where do you start? How do you word it? Let’s talk about it.
A contract protects the doula. It clarifies what they do and don’t do. Any client signing it is stating they understand this. They’re also agreeing to pay your fees. Don’t procrastinate. Get it over with. You’ll feel better after it’s done.
Let’s set it up. This is how I have mine. It is not done by a lawyer. You should get an attorney to review yours. Throughout this blog, I’ve copied pieces of my contract, italicized, and in green font.
At the very top you may want to add a title to the document such as
“contract of hire for birth doula services.”
Next you want your information.
Make a statement about confidentiality. Mine says,
All medical and personal information shared is confidential. I do not disclose when someone is in labor, if they have given birth, details about their birth, or information about their baby. It is also confidential when a person is a client.
After that I have a social media section where I mention that I do not talk about my clients on social media without permission. I may ask permission for reasons such as reviews, promotion, a welcome baby post, or educational opportunities.
RELEASE OF INFORMATION TO THE HEALTHCARE TEAM
In this section, I ask permission to share relevant information with the healthcare team. There is a space for them to sign and date if they give this permission. Mine says,
The doula is asking permission to release relevant information to the healthcare team as necessary for the health, safety, and wellbeing of the client or by client preference for the doula to communicate. Please sign and date below if you grant permission for this release.
Here is where you want to clarify what your fees are and when they are due. Here is mine as an example.
The standard package included 3 prenatal appointments and 1 in-person postpartum appointment.
Fees are non-negotiable. All clients have the same fee. This is for all types of birth (vaginal or cesarean, medicated or non-medicated) with any outcome.
50% of the total fee is due at time of hire.
The remaining balance is due by 36 weeks.
Birth support will not be provided without full payment.
If you do a sliding scale, talk about it here and mention the requirements and the price.
Scholarship amount or discount applied
You need to have a refund policy decided. Many doulas decide the birth itself is a certain percentage of the fee. They may also decide to have a non-refundable retainer fee. Mine is in green here.
The retainer fee is 50% of the package fee. This secures the client’s due date and the doula’s availability for that month. That is non-refundable.
If the client wishes to end services before the birth, all but the retainer fee will be refunded.
If the doula misses the birth through no fault of her own (i.e. the client did not notify in a timely manner), no refund is given.
If the doula misses the birth through her own circumstances (such as illness), 40% of the total package fee is returned.
TERMINATION OF SERVICES POLICY
After you share your refund policy, you should clarify that the client can terminate services and there are situations the doula can as well. Mine says,
The client is able to end services at any point for any reason.
The doula may end services for reasons including the following: violence, unsafe environment (including presence of drugs), unhygienic environment (including excessive smoke or allergens), threats, harassment, mistreatment, change in planned birth location, or incompatibility with expectation of care.
Note: I am unable to provide care in a home with a cat. I’m highly allergic. While I discuss this matter before scheduling a consultation, please note that if a client gets a cat after hire, I will have to terminate services unless we can arrange appointments to be done in another home.
Notice that I mentioned in my contract about an allergy of mine. I am sadly very allergic to cats. Some breeds actually make my eyes swell shut. I cannot be in a house with cats. I actually ask about pets in the home before I schedule a consultation.
What are some situations you want to be able to end a contract with someone?
Be clear about what responsibilities they have. How soon do they need to notify you? Some examples,
AGREEMENT TO HIRE SERVICES
This is where the action comes in. Will they say I do? Is it a match?
I, (type a line long enough to handwrite a name), hereby agree to hire (your name) of (your LLC) for birth doula services as agreed upon in this contract.
I understand this agreement becomes active upon payment and that without payment this contract will be null.
I understand the doula’s role of support.
I understand medical care is not included in doula services.
I understand the fees, refund policy, and termination policy of this business.
Print your name
Sign your name
Symbols “doula portion” symbols
You did it. You made your very first contract. See, that wasn’t so scary. Open a document. Do your outline. You are welcome to use the outline I have here. Draft. It doesn’t need to be perfect today. Get it drafted. Go from there. And remember you are always allowed to update your paperwork. You can tweak things as you go. You’ve come this far. Don’t let the intimidation of a contract hold you back.