Birth Ended in C-Section and Client doesn't want to pay half.... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would like some guidance in this area if anyone has any. I don't know if I was unreasonable here or if my client was.

My philosophy is that the client pays the doula no matter what happens with the birth as long as the doula has done her job.

This client paid half the fee on the first prenatal visit. We had one prenatal and she started having some difficulties with babies heart rate but that went on for a month or so. They were not sure whether she would need a c-section or not. We were in touch. I offered to move prenatal visits up "just in case" but she never acted on that.

She was admitted to the hospital for a "shaky" nst and never called me. Then she had a c-section and didn't call. But out of luck I guess I called her a moment before she went in when her husband informed me that she was going in for surgery. So I went to the hospital. I was out at her house that night for an appointment and no one called to cancel even though they knew several hours ahead of time that c-section was needed. Husband told me I didn't need to come but I came to give MOm support in case she needed it. I stayed for a few hours. I also had made a previous hospital visit where I stayed for a few hours when she had been admitted another time and I massaged her feet and hands and gave informative advice and emotional support after a scary moment.

I told her to call if she needed breastfeeding support. She had a small baby that was in the nursery for several hours after birth and her sister let me know only to stay a few minutes because my client was tired. I stayed a couple hours anyway day of birth but left because I felt maybe I was overstepping my invitation.

I never got a call from her, left a message, no call. Finally I e-mailed and tried to work in in a nice way that I wasn't sure if anything was wrong since I hadn't been kept informed or involved.

Without going into much detail she finally contacted me and told me she really only hired me for the support during a vaginal birth and didn't want me for emotional support and therefore didn't call. And the lack of communication the day of the c-section was more that she forgot about our appointment as well or she would've called to cancel. She didn't call after the birth because she was anemic.

So I understand mostly why she didn't call. I think she just had a very limited view of what the doula does. And said she thought half the money was MORE THAN ENOUGH for what I did.

I don't really think I agree with that. I've had super easy clients that only have a couple prenatals and a 3 hour quick labor and only really want one postpartum and they still pay me and think it was worth every penny. I always OFFER three prenatals and three postpartums. And offered her the same. I've had other clients have c-sections and pay. I've had people hire me that WANT epidurals but just need someone for emotional support and they pay me.

In the end I told her I didn't want her to come off with a negative experience from her doula and told her to pay if she saw fit but not to worry about it. And I don't believe I will see any more money.

And truly if she had offered me the other half I was only going to take half of it since we technically only had one prenatal. (Even though I saw her two more times in the hospital). So I was willing to work with her on it. But she just couldn't understand why I would want any more money.

What do you think? Sorry so long.

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#2 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and just to ad, I get along well with this client. Even with the money issue we had a great talk about the birth and every thing else....

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#3 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 07:26 PM
 
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What is written in your contract?

SugarMama to Chatterbox Zoe (almost 4) and Locomotive Miles (2)
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#4 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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Do you have some sort of contract, so your clients know that payment is expected no matter the outcome of the birth? If not, it might be a good idea, so this doesn't happen again

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#5 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 07:35 PM
 
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It's a hard call. I think that if a client has not paid me in full by week 37 or made a specific alternate arrangement, they are not my client. I think sometimes people hide thier indecisiveness in the circumstances of their pregnancy. If she had been 100% wanting a doula, she would have paid or asked for a different arrangement. It's a difficult call when you don't want to seem like a bill collector. With an unsure client, at some point you have to stop "chasing" the birth and let them be the one to contact you. I'm not saying you did anything wrong. You put supporting the mom ahead of your money concerns. Bravo to you for that. She was inconsiderate of your time by not being up front with you about her expectations. Will you get more money from her? Very doubtful.

Do you use a contract? I do and in it I specifically address what I expect of clients that wind up scheduling a section. I also address emergency sections and what happens if labor starts and they don't call me in time. I think it's best for everyone to be very up front about what you expect from your clients and what you are willing to give them in return.
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#6 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaAlicia View Post

She was admitted to the hospital for a "shaky" nst and never called me. Then she had a c-section and didn't call. But out of luck I guess I called her a moment before she went in when her husband informed me that she was going in for surgery. So I went to the hospital. ......

Husband told me I didn't need to come but I came to give MOm support in case she needed it. I stayed for a few hours.

She had a small baby that was in the nursery for several hours after birth and her sister let me know only to stay a few minutes because my client was tired. I stayed a couple hours anyway day of birth but left because I felt maybe I was overstepping my invitation.


And truly if she had offered me the other half I was only going to take half of it since we technically only had one prenatal. (Even though I saw her two more times in the hospital). So I was willing to work with her on it. But she just couldn't understand why I would want any more money.

What do you think? Sorry so long.
I think you did overstep. It doesn't sound, from the orange bits above, that you were ever invited. The husband and the sister tried to give you clues that your services were not wanted.

I think Babes in arms has some great advice. I don't know how clear you were with your contract. It seems like you "chased the birth".
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#7 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 08:59 PM
 
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I agree, I think it would have been better left alone.

This is what I have in my contract: I take a deposit that equals about 1/3 of my fee at our first visit (after an initial meet). I have written in therea, that if I miss the birth, either because they don't call me, or because labor goes too fast, if they still wish for me to come to the hospital, I charge $100, payable before I leave the hospital, for the additional support (then we do not exchange the original fee-remainder, the 2/3rds). If they feel they are okay and don't want additional support, then we call it good, I do one postpartum, and that's it.

I have never had that happen, though. If it does, we all know where I stand.

Generally, I get the deposit. After the birth, at the first postpartum visit, I get the remainder of the fee.

Live and learn. The reason my contract has evolved is as these things arise, I see I didn't make concessions for them in my contract, so then I change them. This particular change, about missing a birth, came about after a couple doula friends were getting stood up. They then had to try and hound the money out of these families, and the families weren't going to pay -- the doula wasn't with them (whether because the familiy changed their minds about calling or the birth went fast) so they didn't feel they should have to pay her.

Another change I made was, I didn't have it stated the initial deposit was non-refindable, and I had a client move. I felt compelled to give her half the deposit back, but we had had two prenatals. Now the deposit is totally non-refundable.
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#8 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First, my contract does state that they pay no matter outcome and if they don't call they still pay. She told me over the phone she would pay me if I really wanted her to. But she said she didn't believe she should. I just told her that I wanted her experience to be positive and therefore it was completely up to her and non payment was o.k. and I would not have any hard feelings over that.

I do require half the money on the first prenatal and half on the 3rd prenatal so my clients are all paid up before the birth. But we did not get to her 3rd prenatal. Her baby was born at 36 weeks.

As far as overstepping......this is why I did those "orange things". When I called the husband he was literally running into the c-section room while talking to me. I called right at that time. And he could barely think. I said, "Should I come down" and he said, "No because you will miss it, I'm going in now". My thought on this was that the husband didn't understand the emotional comfort and breastfeeding assistance I would offer afterward. And that she would want that. Also I wanted to fulfill my contract if any questions did arise.

Second the sister did say to only stay a minute (and I wasn't sure if that was HER saying that or my client asking her to say that) but my client appeared to be enjoying me there and talked to me alot about what happened and was really hashing her story, her fears, etc....and I talked to her about breastfeeding of which she didn't know much and I was surprised. So I really coached her about that while I was there. She really seemed to be benefiting from my company. I wasn't just lurking...And as soon as she appeared to be tired and the conversation died down I said I would go even though I wanted to stay longer so I could actually assist with breastfeeding when baby came back from nursery. So I don't know that was actually overstepping or "chasing the birth".

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#9 of 35 Old 03-14-2008, 10:50 PM
 
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She told me over the phone she would pay me if I really wanted her to. But she said she didn't believe she should. I just told her that I wanted her experience to be positive and therefore it was completely up to her and non payment was o.k. and I would not have any hard feelings over that.
IMO, you deserve payment. You (likely) cleared your schedule, considered yourself on-call, kept your cellphone glued to you... she chose not to call you. She's giving you clear signs that she doesn't want your services now, but she signed a contract.

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#10 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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[QUOTE=DoulaAlicia;10768601]First, my contract does state that they pay no matter outcome and if they don't call they still pay. She told me over the phone she would pay me if I really wanted her to. But she said she didn't believe she should. I just told her that I wanted her experience to be positive and therefore it was completely up to her and non payment was o.k. and I would not have any hard feelings over that.


No you are being taken advantage of. You have a contract that states what the details for payment are. She knows she signed it but still believes she should not have to pay? Why? Did she not sign it? I think you are rolling over when you should not. Doulas deserve to be paid. You were available to her whether she accessed that or not. You took her as a client and that meant you would take one less other client. In other words, your contract with her means you were unavailable to take other clients. We do hard work and are on call 24/7. I suppose if she had planned a homebirth and had to transport she would then believe she did not owe the midwife? In the future, I would not say "its okay if you don't want to pay me", but since you did I guess you will have to live with it. In the future I would say "I am sorry you feel that way, but I did make myself available to you 24/7. I honored the contract and I expect you to do the same." And if they didn't I would take them to small claims court, which in my area costs $50 to file and since my fee is $700 - makes it worth it to me.

I will say this same thing happened to me once, but it was my fault because although she had the contract and kept saying she was putting it in the mail, I never received it. Did five prenatal visits (she was on full bedrest and couldn't take a childbirth class so I went to her) and three post partums for her baby in the NICU. Then she didn't pay me because "you didn't make the emergency cesarean" (literally a NST to stat cesarean where she was on the table when her partner called me - it would have been over before I even got to the hospital parking lot). Now I tell clients that I will not be available until I have a signed contract and go over the "you chose not to call me or it was impossible for me to make it or you choose a cesarean at the last minute" clauses very carefully at one of our initial meetings. That birth cost me a lot in babysitting fees for all the visits I did with her and I got literally nothing for it.
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#11 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=homewithtwinsmama;10769824]
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Originally Posted by DoulaAlicia View Post
First, my contract does state that they pay no matter outcome and if they don't call they still pay. She told me over the phone she would pay me if I really wanted her to. But she said she didn't believe she should. I just told her that I wanted her experience to be positive and therefore it was completely up to her and non payment was o.k. and I would not have any hard feelings over that.


No you are being taken advantage of. You have a contract that states what the details for payment are. She knows she signed it but still believes she should not have to pay? Why? Did she not sign it? I think you are rolling over when you should not. Doulas deserve to be paid. You were available to her whether she accessed that or not. You took her as a client and that meant you would take one less other client. In other words, your contract with her means you were unavailable to take other clients. We do hard work and are on call 24/7. I suppose if she had planned a homebirth and had to transport she would then believe she did not owe the midwife? In the future, I would not say "its okay if you don't want to pay me", but since you did I guess you will have to live with it. In the future I would say "I am sorry you feel that way, but I did make myself available to you 24/7. I honored the contract and I expect you to do the same." And if they didn't I would take them to small claims court, which in my area costs $50 to file and since my fee is $700 - makes it worth it to me.

I will say this same thing happened to me once, but it was my fault because although she had the contract and kept saying she was putting it in the mail, I never received it. Did five prenatal visits (she was on full bedrest and couldn't take a childbirth class so I went to her) and three post partums for her baby in the NICU. Then she didn't pay me because "you didn't make the emergency cesarean" (literally a NST to stat cesarean where she was on the table when her partner called me - it would have been over before I even got to the hospital parking lot). Now I tell clients that I will not be available until I have a signed contract and go over the "you chose not to call me or it was impossible for me to make it or you choose a cesarean at the last minute" clauses very carefully at one of our initial meetings. That birth cost me a lot in babysitting fees for all the visits I did with her and I got literally nothing for it.
This is sort of how I felt but didn't want to come off as being selfish in some way. Other "business" people would GET THEIR MONEY but as a doula I don't know if it is my obligation to be overly understanding. I actually did reject a client due 9 days prior to her....I lost $450 for that. That is my fee. Then ofcourse I lost $225 for the money she didn't pay me. Since I only take two to three clients a month that is much of my possible income for the month. And my family needs it. Her family on the other hand spends $600 a night on hotel rooms in Chicago.

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#12 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 11:34 AM
 
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One way that you can avoid this conflict in the future is by walking your clients through your contract and talking about the hows and whys behind each of the items.

Here is how I talk about my fees. My doula contract says that 50% of the fee is due at the first prenatal and the balance at 37 weeks. If a client cancels before 37 weeks then they get no refund of the deposit, but don't owe the balance either. After 37 weeks, there are no refunds.

Here is how I present it to clients: "I just wanted to talk to you about the payment and refund policy. I ask that payment be made in full by 37 weeks. Occasionally something happens after that point that affects how I might help you, like a scheduled c-section or an unusually fast birth, or another change in plans. I don't give refunds after that point because essentially what you are paying for when you hire me is for me to block out 1/3 of my month in on-call time. It is impossible for me to find another client at that point to replace you if you decide not to use my services. This may sound crazy, but I limit the number of clients I take per month so that if someone has a long, long birth or needs lots of help postpartum I can be with them. I have only run into this situation a couple of times, like with a scheduled c-section for breech, and most of the time I can find another way to provide support for you, but there will be no refunds."

Hope this helps.

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#13 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by DoulaAlicia View Post
First, my contract does state that they pay no matter outcome and if they don't call they still pay. She told me over the phone she would pay me if I really wanted her to. But she said she didn't believe she should. I just told her that I wanted her experience to be positive and therefore it was completely up to her and non payment was o.k. and I would not have any hard feelings over that.
Alicia,
This type of situation happens once in a blue moon. I hate when it happens and i always feel taken advantage of. But i like to believe it creates good will. That must be worth something to you!
The client absolutely was wrong and did not abide by the contract. You were very generous towards her by not wanting her to feel her birth tarnished. I think you did the right thing not to argue with her. Next time you can say how you were on call 24/7 and refused other clients for her due date. However I would not go to small claims court.

Really what else could you have done? Sometimes the good will towards client and not allowing it to turn into an extended hot conversation is the best path.

Nickle and dimming a doula should be a deadly sin! It is really a national tragedy how women who provide services get "Nickel and Dimed"

That is why unions can be so beneficial to many workers.
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#14 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 12:00 PM
 
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One other thing -- the point at which I ask for payment and the deadline for either receiving a refund or being able to cancel services without owing further payment is the same. I ask for payment before 37 weeks and that is the point where clients can cancel as well. So I wouldn't find myself in the situation you did where someone cancelled and then had not paid me yet. Makes it a lot cleaner/easier.

If someone did not want to pay me for their birth because of a change in circumstances, I would offer them the possibility of postpartum support at an hourly rate. And then if they didn't want that, I would let it go. I might give them a congratulatory phone call afterwards, but otherwise I would not continue trying to work with them.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#15 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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[QUOTE=DoulaAlicia;10771190]
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Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post

This is sort of how I felt but didn't want to come off as being selfish in some way. Other "business" people would GET THEIR MONEY but as a doula I don't know if it is my obligation to be overly understanding. I actually did reject a client due 9 days prior to her....I lost $450 for that. That is my fee. Then ofcourse I lost $225 for the money she didn't pay me. Since I only take two to three clients a month that is much of my possible income for the month. And my family needs it. Her family on the other hand spends $600 a night on hotel rooms in Chicago.
Unfortunately you gave her an out so this time I think you need to eat the cost.
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#16 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Several people have mentioned the 37 week mark for the second payment. We do something similar, collecting the deposit (half of fee) when hired and the balance at the 2nd of 2 prenatals. I do this at least by 38 weeks, but in practice usually do that visit and get that 2nd payment by 36 weeks.

Our contract says that if the couple fails to contact the doula for the birth, we keep the whole fee. However, we have made a couple of amendments to this over time.
I consider the "prebirth" fee to be $250 of my total of $700. That is for prenatals and being "oncall" from 38-42 weeks.
So if someone has an emergency *prior* to 38 weeks, I don't think I was on call for that client. I didn't have to make special plans, carry my cell phone, etc for her, and around here I can probably snag a last minute client in that month; we get a lot of last minute calls, or I can tell other doulas I'm suddenly available.

I feel like a woman who has a birth emergency, as this woman did, with a cesarean and a baby in th NICU, really did not use my services. You didn't do all your prenatals, were not on call since she was only 36 weeks, and didn't have to attend the birth. This doesn't seem like a breach of contract to me. I would keep only the deposit in this case.

I have offered postpartum services in these situations (c-sections without labor and for which the couple didn't choose to use me for emotional support) if someone desired it, but otherwise wouldn't charge them for more than the original hiring and one prenatal.

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#17 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 08:04 PM
 
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And truly if she had offered me the other half I was only going to take half of it since we technically only had one prenatal.
So really, the complaint is that you wanted the opportunity to refuse the balance as a goodwill gesture but since she didn't pay the full fee you are now considering her in breach of contract? What do you plan to do? :
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#18 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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Whether or not you overstepped or chased the birth, she had accepted you as her doula, and you had accepted her as your client. There was a contracts that was also mutually accepted.

She broke that contract.

I make sure to explain why I get paid even if she doesn't call, or if she gets a section. She is reserving a block of my time wherein I am on call 24 hours a day. I am thus unable to take on any other clients for that time period. I'm not saying you didn't explain this...but I am very clear as to this aspect (all aspects, really) of the contract. I probably spend a good 30 min going through the contract.

You wouldn't be in the wrong taking her to small claims court. Would I personally do that? No. But it's an option for you.

Kris, it sounds to me like the OP's issue is partly the prinicipal rather than the finances. Doulas (and babysitters, and midwives, and other female dominated, female/family centered vocations) have a habit of being crapped on financially. We're expected to reduce rates all the time for single mothers, poor mothers, or at the very least offer a payment plan. Don't get me wrong-I've done births for free, and probably will in the future. But try telling your CPA that instead of the $150 he charges for your taxes, you can only pay $80. Or tell your mechanic that even though he's fixing your car now, you can only pay him $50 a month for 6 months.

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#19 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So really, the complaint is that you wanted the opportunity to refuse the balance as a goodwill gesture but since she didn't pay the full fee you are now considering her in breach of contract? What do you plan to do? :
I was not going to refuse the entire balance of $225. I was thinking of taking half the balance which would've been $112 or so. And that was just to stay in her good graces and have her be happy with me as a doula but not because I thought she didn't owe it to me. What will I do? Probably nothing. I would love to write her a long letter and explain to her some of these things justifying myself. Not even for the sake of getting paid but for the sake of her realization. But I'm sure that would be to no benefit in the end. She would likely still not get me at all and then I would be more frustrated. I tried to tell her over the phone about those things but she just kept saying that I didn't "do the work" so the fee wasn't justified. So she wasn't even trying to understand I gave up $450 just to serve her.

After hearing these posts I think my big mistake was the contract. Even though it says these things in it I do not spend time with clients running through it line by line and I SHOULD!! So, what I'm going to do is firm up my wording a bit, making it VERY clear and then discuss it in detail with people on our first visit.

And yes, it is a bit frustrating that we are expected to give breaks, make exceptions, etc......but the guy at the jewelry store that just DESTROYED my dead grandmothers favorite bracelet that she gave to me is telling me that is just the way he did it and sorry I don't like it......where is my new bracelet since mine is destroyed? And where is the payment for my suffering that my airloom (sp?) is gone? It seems the world is a tough place....Being in business for myself I need to decide how tough I want to be.

Thanks for the advice ladies. You've helped alot!

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#20 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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I also ask for full payment by 38 weeks. (Half at the time your decided to hire me, half by 38 weeks). I spell out the refund policy and such. If this had happened to me, I would be frustrated, but I would just take a deep breath and let it go. Not much you can do and being nagry only hurts you at this point.

Sorry.

Megan Davidson, Labor & Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Anthropologist, Mom to August (9) and Clay (4), Partner to Shawn.

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#21 of 35 Old 03-15-2008, 10:43 PM
 
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[QUOTE=tlcdoula;10772741]
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaAlicia View Post

Unfortunately you gave her an out so this time I think you need to eat the cost.

TLC doula. Somehow you snipped this to attribute something to me that I did not write. Just wanted to clarify that.
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#22 of 35 Old 03-16-2008, 11:32 AM
 
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Sorry I just hit quote and I guess it quoted everything. I meant that for the original poster because that is what she said (sorry again).
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#23 of 35 Old 03-16-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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I have to admit that I think I might have an issue with my last client as well, but plan to pursue getting payment.

Here is what happened. I did her first birth as part of a hospital program that I work for. At the time the family paid $75 and the hospital paid $225 so we got a total of $300 for the birth. The mom's first birth I was with her for 2 hours before the baby came. When she got pregnant again she called the hospital and was informed that I do not work there anymore (resigned a year ago). She asked them for my information and when she called I informed her that my fee for services as a private doula are $600. At the time she asked for a discount and we talked and decided that we would cut the prenatals down since I worked with her before and therefore the fee would be $500. She paid 1/2 at the contract signing and then the second half was due at 38 weeks. I sent her a reminder about the second half being due just prior to 38 weeks - heard nothing (her last was born at 38 weeks). Sent another reminder at 38 weeks and then sent a 3rd reminder at 38 1/2 weeks. Then I got an e-mail telling me she can't afford to pay me the second half. We talked and she said she would send me 1/2 of the remaining balance and the second half in a week. I got the 1/2 a day before she went into labor and this one was faster. I was with her for 40 minutes before the baby came. I know when we first signed the contract she was concerned about this one being faster and I felt that what that meant was paying more for a faster birth, but this time she is getting a few prenatals and a postpartum in addition for me really only being paid $200 more (she didn't get all of my prenatals but still got some).

Her contractions started at 7 am and I am very, very clear with people that if they think they are in labor to call and give me a heads up. She called me at 8:30 am and said she thought she might be in labor and was getting ready to go to the hospital in a little bit. She got there at 9 am (lives blocks from the hospital) and I got there at 9:20 as my drive is further. She had the baby in her arms by 10 am.

Well, it is now a week later and no money in my hand. I can't say for sure if this will be an issue, but I am thinking it might especially since they found out that between the time they hired me and the time they birthed I decided to go back to the hospital program and work (I am not ready to give up doula work, but being pregnant am finding people not wanting to hire me - the hospital program they get me and that is that - plus I really missed the program and my co-workers!!!!) Unfortunately for them they didn't birth at the same hospital so even though I went back to work there they would not have been able to get me that cheap because they chose a closer hospital this time.

I have to call them on Monday and schedule their postpartum and I am hoping they just pay me without me asking especially since I gave up another client at my full rate because I was taking them and didn't want to stress myself out. If they don't pay me I plan on asking for the money, but based upon what they said in the hospital I am thinking they don't want to finish paying.
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#24 of 35 Old 03-16-2008, 02:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoulaAlicia View Post

In the end I told her I didn't want her to come off with a negative experience from her doula and told her to pay if she saw fit but not to worry about it. And I don't believe I will see any more money.
So don't send her a further letter. Eat this one with some grace, as you already agreed to.

In the future, try to say "let me think about it and call you back," so you can gather your thoughts and not feel resentful. It would be understandable, I think, to say "I turned down clients for your due month to reserve your position. So I would appreciate being paid in full, but if I am able to get a last minute paying client for your due month, I will refund 50%."
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#25 of 35 Old 03-16-2008, 02:52 PM
 
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This happened to me as well. Interviewed, was hired, received deposit, went to two prenatal meetings, then I received a call of "Hey guess what? We had the baby yesterday." Mom said she went for a prenatal OB visit, baby's heart rate was high, they sent her to hospital, then did a c-section, and there was "no time at all" to call you.

Except the more mom talked, the stranger her story got; she went home in between OB visit and hospital to pack some things, call family, etc. Then had to wait about 4 hours at hospital until OB arrived, re-checked baby, etc. and decided upon surgery.

I could tell by the tone of the phone call that it was assumed she wouldn't pay me anything else since I wasn't at the birth. I offered to come for breastfeeding support, then a postpartum, etc. All were refused and I finally brought up the subject of payment.

I explained that I only work with 2-3 clients/month, can not influence specific outcomes (i.e., precipitous birth or un-planned c-section) but that I potentially turn down other clients to work with this mom. In the end she agreed with that reasoning and sent me a check, but the whole situation felt weird. Always had from the beginning (really felt like mom was hiring a doula because it felt "in vogue" to do so (?!?!) rather than because they actually wanted to the support.


Lesson learned? Trust my gut about clients from the get-go, and make sure my contract is exceedingly clear!
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#26 of 35 Old 03-16-2008, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happyartmama View Post
This happened to me as well. Interviewed, was hired, received deposit, went to two prenatal meetings, then I received a call of "Hey guess what? We had the baby yesterday." Mom said she went for a prenatal OB visit, baby's heart rate was high, they sent her to hospital, then did a c-section, and there was "no time at all" to call you.

Except the more mom talked, the stranger her story got; she went home in between OB visit and hospital to pack some things, call family, etc. Then had to wait about 4 hours at hospital until OB arrived, re-checked baby, etc. and decided upon surgery.

I could tell by the tone of the phone call that it was assumed she wouldn't pay me anything else since I wasn't at the birth. I offered to come for breastfeeding support, then a postpartum, etc. All were refused and I finally brought up the subject of payment.

I explained that I only work with 2-3 clients/month, can not influence specific outcomes (i.e., precipitous birth or un-planned c-section) but that I potentially turn down other clients to work with this mom. In the end she agreed with that reasoning and sent me a check, but the whole situation felt weird. Always had from the beginning (really felt like mom was hiring a doula because it felt "in vogue" to do so (?!?!) rather than because they actually wanted to the support.


Lesson learned? Trust my gut about clients from the get-go, and make sure my contract is exceedingly clear!
I know what you mean about GUT feelings. I kept telling my husband that this family hired a doula but didn't really know why that much. I mean they wanted labor without drugs if possible but weren't that adamant about it. And that was it. I think if people don't respect or at least understand the full scope of who the doula is they tend more not to call if things go fast. They just don't respect how much we really care about their birth outcome and their experience and it is because they don't really care that much about their own experience. They haven't done the research and are not affected too negatively by intervention. So, what if the doula wasn't there? Well, it may be a shame but not horrible. Other serious natural birthing Moms that have done their research give more respect to the doula in my opinion. A doula isn't an accessory you take to the hospital with you. She is a guide, a birth professional, a loving woman, a nurturer, a confidant, a calming presence....and a lot more.

Mother to FOUR BOYS!!  Austin (1997) Luke (2005) Mason (2007) and Judah (2010), wife to Joe, doula to many, and Birthing From Within Mentor in SE Michigan
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#27 of 35 Old 03-19-2008, 08:54 PM
 
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This has been a very interesting discussion. I'm surprised at how many of you require full payment prior to the birth. No one does that around here, though I wish we did. My contract asks for $100 at signing, 1/2 of the remainder at 38 weeks, and the final 1/2 of the remainder by 3 weeks pp. Most of the other doulas in my area just ask for a deposit ($75-100) at signing and then the rest of the fee at the pp visit. I don't know anyone that has been stiffed before, but your stories make me anxious.

Once I did have a client who I met for the initial consultation, got my deposit from her (hadn't signed a contract yet), and then was preparing to schedule our first prenatal meeting when she had the baby at 29 weeks. They called and I was able to be there for about 4 hours before baby come. I offered to reduce my fees because we had no prenatal visits. They said they would pay me full price, but agreed to my reduced fee since I offered. I visited them twice more in the NICU too, and once at home. I'm glad I did the reduced fee though. These clients have ended up being super cheerleaders for me and have gotten me several more clients.

I'm gonna ponder this whole fee schedule thing a bit more.

Christine, mama to Ava (7.05), Alder (5.07), Sadie (2.09) and #4 due mid-July 2011! 
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#28 of 35 Old 03-19-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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this has been a very informative discussion. we get a deposit upfront( 1/3), this basically covers the prenatal and being on call, etc.
we require the full payment at 36 weeks. i would really not like to have to deal with getting a payment at the birth or after at the postpartum visit. I hold the check until after the birth, just in case......
we do not offer refunds, if they dont call.
this happened to my doula partner, so we learned our lesson. she happened to be at a birth ( a scheduled c) and called her client, who was due around the same time and her husband said that she was in labor and going to the hospital. (note, he did not call her) when she got there, my doula partner went to the room to check in on her and proceeded to offer labor support. the mom was very insulting to her and made nasty comment about her to her friend, who was there, her husband just stood there, not saying a word.......after much back and forth my partner went to get something from the cafeteria and when she came back they asked her to leave. she had already gotten payment, as this was a gift from the woman's sister, as she was concerned about her and her mental state........ after the birth, she did not want her to come for a postpartum visit and actually demanded all the money back, including the deposit. my doula partner told her that she had fulfilled her end of the contract and she could not have her money back. she also contacted her sister and explained the situation and she was very understanding.... but it was an awful situation and made my doula partner question her abilities....

on another note, i noticed that you said you do 3 prenatals.....why do you do so many? just curious.

labor & postpartum doula, mom to sky & ben
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#29 of 35 Old 03-20-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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I do (did since I'm not currently attending births) about 1/3 as a deposit and the remainder due by 36 weeks. That deposit is non-refundable because I would only take so many clients per month and may turn away others. In my contract I say that I will refund if I miss the birth due to my error (like I take 3 hours to get there) and don't send a back-up. I specify no refunds if the birth is simply fast or they don't call me or they call me long after they knew things were happening. I also specify how much time it will take me (usually 1 hour from the time they call, in case it's daytime and I have to take the kids to a sitter) so they should call me early to let me know that things are starting to happen and they'll want me to come some time in the next few hours.

I'm sorry you got burned. It really stinks. Being on call is rather horrid and I don't think people appreciate the stress that comes with it!

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#30 of 35 Old 03-22-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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and once as a midwife and now I go over that contract word for word...then i have both mom and dad sign. if they don't pay up, i turn it over the attorney.
they are paying for your time, your expertise, your emotional support, they are paying to take you away from your home and family.
YOU ARE WORTH IT!
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