Building Your Birth Business: Funding Your Business

Written by: Jess Kimball

When I entered birthwork I was excited and ambitious. I had high goals for myself all throughout my childhood. At age 11 I had mapped out what minimum salary I wanted to be making, what size house I wanted, how many kids, and what career I thought my partner would have. My mom always thought I was destined to be a midwife, but doula work felt like my true calling.

I was a bit shocked when I read that the average salary of a doula is 15-30K a year. It didn’t seem to make sense to me. How were people doing this long-term? That salary just didn’t seem sustainable to me.

I went on to make much more than that as a doula, but that did not make me immune to burnout. I was not aware of that threat to my career and its impact on my health.

Throughout the years I have learned firsthand to manage the finances of birthwork in a sustainable, organized way. I believe financial sustainability can lead to a space for other forms of sustainability.

Funding Your Business

One of the parts of starting a business that leaves a lot of people stuck is the financial aspect of actually starting a business. The truth is, you don’t need every certification, a website, or even any supplies to begin working as a doula, but if you really feel in your heart of hearts that those would make you more prepared then you should go for them. And there are places to go for funds to cover these expenses!

  • GoFundMe: Host a fundraiser to pay for your education! There is no shame in it and you may be surprised how many people want to support your goals.
  • Grants: Access healthcare equipment grants by becoming a nonprofit, finding a fiscal sponsor, or finding small business grants.
  • Education Grants: Some states have advancement grants that will pay for certifications that are not linked to a degree. I have used these for doula certifications as well as reiki I and II certifications. The STAMPP grant is also an option in some states where they have dedicated the funds towards education in perinatal providers.
  • Donations: Sometimes people do not like donating financially but will donate items. Create an Amazon registry and accept donations of items you will need while working (scrubs, baby carriers, rebozo, wraps, herbs, etc). You can also reach out in your community and see if parents are passing on items that might be useful for your business, like a baby carrier if you are a postpartum doula. Other local birthworkers may have books and supplies they are willing to pass on too.

Here is a list of companies that may offer donated supplies:

  • Dr. Brown’s
  • Traditional Medicinals
  • Good Clean Love
  • Boppy Pillow and Carriers
  • Halo Sleep Sack (through the Sleep Educator program)
  • Agni – Clinical provider program is accessed via email. They will give you $150 to put towards various products.
  • Lansinoh
  • Mother Love

It can feel intimidating to start a business. A lot of people did not grow up in homes where money is discussed openly. It can feel nerve-wracking to be responsible for the finances and income your business gives you. Asking financial questions might feel completely uncharacteristic of you. If you are having doubts about your business plan consider reaching out to a community action center to discuss it, for free, with an advisor. Our next Building Your Birth Business issue will be on setting your rates in a way that provides you with profit!

At Global Foundation for Girls (GFG), we are active thought partners, serving global communities of birthing persons in order to advance and support the advocacy movement. Our networks serve Black and brown girls (trans or cis) and gender-diverse youth survivors of sexual violence, retributive (corrective) violence, assault, obstetric violence, birth injustice, discrimination, or disenfranchisement due to their gender, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, faith, ability, or other identity markers. This demographic likely includes youth from low-income neighborhoods and varying language skills and immigration statuses. Our team is made up of birth advocates, many of which are birthworkers, from all over the world.

Jess Kimball, AS, CLC, CD, PCD, PMH-C