Traveling for births, as a birth professional can be extremely fun and exhilarating while also, entirely stressful, so you have to make sure to set your prices fairly for yourself, prepare your travel plans and make back-up plans for your travel plans, because things usually do not go as planned!
First, make sure your travel expenses are covered, at the bare minimum, first and foremost. The most affordable flights are usually found through Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit airlines, keeping in mind that you usually do not even get free peanuts or water on these flights as an expense saver, so bring your own! If you do not want to sacrifice in-air Wifi, snacks, water and whatever other amenities usually come with your preferred airline, though, you are not required to, it is your decision to opt for your comfort and you set your prices, after all. In traveling frequently I have found that purchasing tickets about 6 weeks beforehand, in the middle of the night on a week day, is usually where I find the cheapest prices, for nearly all the airlines! My best advice with flights and birth timing, though, DO NOT book your flight home until mama has had her baby, unless your flight allows cancellation or transfer of credit. You never know when you may be the one to attend a 44 weeker birth!
Another option I have seen that works well for traveling birth workers is an RV, camper, or travel trailer! You can simply post up in the expectant parents yard/driveway/property for about a month and be right there, ready, for whenever mama goes into labor. Or maybe, you prefer to be present at a nearby campground instead, for a little bit of space and privacy, which is absolutely okay, as well.
Maybe you even live the couch surfer life and just go where the wind blows, which is totally cool, too, and makes it easy and simple to travel wherever you are called to!
Decide where you will be staying during your travels, and make sure that is factored into your fee, as well. If you will be staying at an AIRBNB or hotel, plan to be there for approximately three to six weeks and factor in that cost. If you plan to stay with the family, make sure you have some wiggle room in your fee to allow you to go stay elsewhere for at least a week, just in case.
Then you will need to choose if you are going to have a rental car, or rely on the family or a driving service for transportation. If you are going to a rural area, be mindful that many driving services may not have options available for you in the late hours of the night. The risk of relying on the family to come get you, while the mama is laboring, is the potential to disrupt her flow by leaving her alone, potentially with kids, if it is just her and her partner in the home. She may not want her partner to leave when contractions start to come consistently, so you will want to be woken, and get there fairly early in her labor, if this is the case.
Now you must figure out what to do with your own family, if you have one! Will your children remain at home, will you take your whole family with you, will you bring just your child with you while your partner continues to work? There are lots of options! Definitely feel out how your child might tolerate being in the birth space if they have never been in one, some children do amazing, while others struggle and can hinder the birthing persons energy. If your children stay home, make sure you have adequate, consistent, reliable, 24/7 care for them set up for as long as you could possibly be gone. Childcare for this arrangement could be an expense so large, that it is nearly impossible for the average expectant family to pay, for you to come up and stay with them for their birth, without your child(ren) present. I personally have brought Noah with me to many births and he thrives in the birth space, and admires women birthing their babies. Below is a video of Noah with baby Jaxson, one of our travel birth babies whom is almost a year old, now!!
Noah & Jaxson 🙂
Now, at this stage of decision making you have probably achieved an expense of approximately $500-800 on expenses alone. You have to decide, now, what is fair for you to be compensated for, on top of expenses. Consider what your regular fee might be, and see if that, on top of expenses would be feasible for your potential clients, and if not, if you are willing to work your price down a little to accommodate, see if you can meet somewhere in the middle to where you walk away with some profit.
But wait, there’s more! Now you have to pack all your supplies, and your clothes for a potential two month stay, in ONE SUITCASE!? I am here to tell you good news, that you do not have to pack an outfit for every day that you could be there, because we now have washing machines. For myself, when I travel, I bring enough clothes for about 4 days, usually alternating between two or three pairs of pants, and washing my used linens every three days so I never run out! This saves a lot of space. Wear a pair of shoes that are versatile instead of packing lots of different pairs. Bring only the NECESSARY birth support items. Deflate birth balls entirely, put your homeopathy vials, tinctures and essential oils into a ziplock as opposed to packing them in the boxes they come in. LABEL your herbs, or security is likely to take them. A rebozo for pain management purposes, can easily be substituted by something else, such as a blanket, sheet, or towel, so to save space, leave it home. Opt for travel size shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc. It’s okay to ask mom what she already has, too, so you know what you do not need to bring.
Then, the question remains, when do you leave your home base?! If mom has a history of going around a certain gestation, you could, theoretically, try to rely on that, but there is always the potential of going early. It is really nice if you can arrange a flight that allows you to change flights last minute, and leave on an earlier flight if you need! If not though, leaving around 37-38 weeks is usually a fair guess. Some people that like to gamble and take chances, wait to book their flights until a mom is in labor, and it seems to work for them, most of the time! This is not something I would personally do, as I like to plan better than that and not feel the anxiety smothering me while I am on a plane, without service, heading to a laboring mom (NO THANK YOU!) but some people can totally handle this with ease and I give them all the props. If this is something you plan to do, definitely let her know that there is a potential for a high flight expense, and the potential for a flight to not even be available at all that day, because the flights are full, especially if she does not live in a popular area where many different airlines go. Once she is in window, watch daily flights closely, check them first thing in the morning.
Now, venture off to your travel birth and be the amazing, flexible birth worker that you are!
Any other tips that you would add if you are an experienced travel birth worker?