Frequently Asked Questions

Legal and insurance

Will I need insurance?

Many new birth professionals worry about their responsibilities and liability. Birth doulas, postpartum doulas, childbirth educators and breastfeeding counselors don’t carry out any clinical tasks (such as taking blood pressure, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, doing a vaginal examination, etc). These are solely the responsibility of the midwife or doctor chosen by the mother. Birth professionals also don’t give medical advice. Your role is to provide information to the mother if she wants it, and to support her in her choices. There should never be a situation in which the birth professional is seen as clinically liable or responsible for outcomes.
Medical indemnity or malpractice insurance is not available for birth professionals as they aren’t medical caregivers. Some insurance companies offer doula insurance but this is different from medical indemnity or malpractice insurance. During your training you will learn how to avoid situations that increase your liability.

Should I have a contract with my clients?

This is very much a personal choice. Some birth professionals feel more comfortable with a contract, while others are very happy working without one. A contract between a birth professional and a client generally covers your role and responsibilities, discusses backup in case you are unavailable, and goes through the payment agreement. It can be helpful for making sure that each of these issues are discussed with clients. It’s better to leave a contract with a client, or email a copy of it to them before you meet them, so they have an opportunity to read it thoroughly and ask any questions before signing it. We provide sample contracts that you’re free to use with your clients and edit accordingly. Many birth professionals work without contracts and have no problems with this. Whether you choose to have a contract or not, it’s important that the terms of payment and the responsibilities are clearly understood by the client in order to avoid any problems later on.

Can clients claim my fees on their insurance?

Many insurance companies are aware of the improved outcomes and subsequent cost savings that come from using a birth professional. Many of them are already providing coverage for doulas, childbirth classes or breastfeeding counselors. If a client’s insurance company doesn’t include birth professionals as one of the services they can claim for, the client can write to the insurance company, quoting the improved outcomes and cost savings. An insurance company will usually require an invoice issued by the birth professional to the clients. They might also require specific information to be included – the client can find out what’s necessary by contacting their insurance company directly. Some birth professionals bill insurance companies directly. If you’re living in the United States, and wish to do this, you may be required to comply with HIPAA guidelines. We provide information about this on our student website.