Friday, April 15, 2016

The 12 Hour Clause?

Official Doula Group of Evansville Statement:
We will never have a 12 hour clause in our contracts.

Who uses the 12 hour clause?
Many doulas have started to have a 12 hour clause put into their contract.  The argument goes that they should be making a living wage when it comes to births that they attend.  While seductive, we at DGoE find that we can make a living wage without this type of clause.

What is a 12 hour clause & when is it invoked?
A 12 hour clause is when a client will be charged an hourly rate (typically $20-50) after the doula has been present at your birth for 12 hours. That mean that if I have joined you at 6am and you have not delivered your baby by 6pm, I would start to charge you an hourly rate for my services. You would then be billed after the birth for the “extra” hours that I am with you.

Why some have it?
The biggest argument for the 12 hour clause is a sustainability one.  Can a doula sustain her working passion on her set fee without invoking this clause?  Can a business model be sustainable if you are not compensated for your time beyond 12 hours?  Many have argued that the 12 hour clause should not be a problem if you have properly educated your clients to know when to actually call you, i.e. when they’re on the way to the hospital.

We choose not to have this clause for several reasons.
1.      When we set our fees, we want to make sure they accessible to the most amount of people that want a doula.  We also set them to take care of our expenses and time spent with the laboring family.
2.      Sometimes the 12 hour clause scares people away from your services and/or coerces them to wait to call their doula until after the time when they needed support.  Early labor can be challenging, and we don’t want a client to need our attention and be afraid that they are calling too early and will have to pay for extra hours if they need us for a longer period of time.
3.      We have found that in the end, the lengths of time we are with clients varies GREATLY and eventually evens out over the course of our business year.  Yes, we have clients that need us for 38 hour labors, but those are the exception and not the rule.  For every lengthy labor and delivery we have, we tend to have several very short ones that make up for that “extra” time spent with another client.

We are not bashing those doulas that have a 12 hour clause in their contract.  They have a business model that works for them and the clients that hire them.  We have simply chosen not to go that route with our contracts. We firmly believe that every woman that wants a doula deserves one, and sometimes simply affording our flat fee is difficult.  So why would we want to make our services possibly even more out of reach for more potential clients?

We at the Doula Group of Evansville pride ourselves on the fact that once you hire us, you will have open access to us via multiple different communication routes. We are happy to answer any and all questions you may have about pregnancy, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, and more.
We will NEVER put a 12 hour clause in our contract so that our clients can rest easy knowing that they have a doula who will be waiting for their call WHENEVER they would like us to join them, even at home.


Hillary Melchiors is the owner of the Doula Group of Evansville.  She has a PhD in Medical Anthropology and a Masters Degree in Public Health. She is currently awaiting her DONA certification approval, and will take her Lamaze Certification exam for childbirth education in October.  Helping families welcome their newest members into the world is her passion! 

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