I want to begin this post by saying, please never let the cost of a doula prevent you from hiring one. Doula support is invaluable when it comes to your emotional and physical well-being. Research supports that having a doula will not only reduce your interventions and improve your outcomes, but it increases the mother's satisfaction with her birth experience! If you would like a doula and are not sure how to fiscally work it out, please contact us and let's talk. We'll help you find the support you need.
I'm sure that if you are reading this, many of you are weighing the pro's and con's of doula support. Your wondering if you can achieve your goals without a doula, your wondering if it's worth the money. You're wondering how much a doula charges. You're wondering why in the world do we (as doulas) charge so much!
In Atlanta, professional working doulas range from $800-1500. After a quick google search, I found that nationally doulas charge $800-2500. With this cost, doulas are offering you their trained expertise on the options in the market, information regarding non-biased and evidence-based options during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Doulas also provide emotional support, spiritual support, and physical support during this time, and a familiarity with the process. Their sole purpose is to help and serve their clients to achieve their best birth while feeling supported along the way.
Many people have an understanding that doulas are simply stay at home moms with a lot of free time on their hands. There are some doulas who only take a few births per year and do not work professionally, but this is not the case for most doulas you meet. Professional doulas work full time and come in many packages. Some doulas are married with children, some doulas are single professional adults, some doulas work from home, some doulas work full time out of an office, and most doulas will work more hours in one shift than most Americans work all week. Birth doulas show up early in labor and stay with the family until several hours after the birth. To learn more about the role of a doula, you can read more here in one of our previous blog posts.
So what are you paying for when you pay for a doula?
I can't speak for everyone, but I am simply going to give my personal experience in the factors I use to determine pricing at my company. Most people will say that doula cost is determined by level of experience and location. I agree with half of that. I do not believe level of experience should affect the cost of doulas. I did personally follow this model, but do not recommend this to the women I mentor. I am part of a group of women trying to find a way to improve this mentality. I do not believe that any working person should earn less than a living wage regardless of their experience. If a doula is averaging out 40-60 hours a week monthly, I believe they should earn a living wage to earn a living wage for those hours invested. Doulas hours are accumulated in administrative work, prenatal meetings to prepare for your birth, research and education, training, networking, births, and postpartum care.
A doula has two options. Increase their fees or take on more clients. Many doulas are afraid to increase their fees because they do not want to lose business. This is a real fear. The other option many doulas consider is taking on more clients. This one is risky too. The more clients each doula has, the more of a chance they have to overlap when it comes time for the baby to be born. Along with that, the doula sacrifices the quality of service they will provide due to conflicting births and/or lack of sleep. So the choices are: Do we raise prices at the risk of losing business or do we keep our prices low and take on more clients at the sacrifice of the level of service we provide?
What else are you paying for?
Operating costs and availability: Your doula is also contracted to be ready and available at a moment's notice anywhere between 38-42 weeks. That is a 4 week window of being on call! If a doula is taking one client a month, they will most likely be on call for the majority of the year. The doula will not be able to plan ahead for special events, kid's birthday parties, anniversaries, or vacations. The doula's entire family adopts a life of flexibility. You are paying for your doula's availability and ability to attend your birth. I believe this is something to be considered in the cost of a doula.
The fees that we charge cover administrative fees, prenatal meetings, online support and education, phone support, labor and birth support, and postpartum/lactation support. We see each client 2-3 times during their pregnancy (this includes their complimentary consultation) and 1-2 times postpartum. We have to pay for hospital parking, marketing, and business expenses. Not to mention as self employed persons, we have to cover our own healthcare expenses.
Let's take a look at a monthly budget breakdown for a doula serving 2 clients:
-Birth Support (let's be optimistic and include 12 hours/client) for 2 clients, (24 hrs total) @$20/hr
-Postpartum support 1 hour commute/1-2 hr meeting for 2 clients (8 hrs total) @$20/hr
-Maintaining professional affiliations: $75/mo
-Continuing education/training (20 hrs) $40/mo
If a doula were to charge $20/hr for 2 clients/month, she would earn $3,520. That's $1760 per client. This amount is conservative and still exceeds the average cost of a doula in Atlanta.
My math might not be perfect, but this is just an idea of what most doulas charge vs. what most doulas *should* charge in order to maintain cost of living. In most cases, you are really getting a bang for your buck for what you actually receive from your doula in regards to what she is actually charging.
What does this save our clients financially? Well, this depends on your insurance and how you are paying for your birth. For many clients, doula support contributes to reduced interventions and hospital bills, which in turn helps reduce your co-pay.
The value of a doula is hard to put in financial terms. Studies show that having a doula increases a family's satisfaction with her birth experience in general. Doulas can help reduce their client's chances of cesarean,reduce the length of your labor, reduce epidural use, and other interventions. If you would like to see how we have benefit our clients, feel free to check out our client testimonials. If you would like to add a testimonial to share how our services helped you, look us up on google and add your review. We will add it to our testimonial page.
Are you curious HOW we make this happen? Would you like to know how a doula could support you? Are you thinking about hiring a doula, but letting the cost get in your way? Please feel free to contact us for a FREE consultation and we'll discuss our services and your options with you.