The Cost of a Doula

When I am talking with a potential client, one of the first things I am usually asked is, “How much do you charge?” With the crippling costs of childbirth in the United States, it's not surprising that most people struggle to foot the bill, let along have enough wiggle room to afford “extras” such as a doula or a birth photographer.

Many people fail to understand why birth workers charge as much as we do. Surely, bringing someone in who does not have a main role in the medical aspect shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars, right? And yet, most doulas in Utah charge an average of $600-$1200 for their full package. Why? Because you are paying for so much more than what you see. When you hire a birth doula, you are receiving

  • Their training in child birth, lactation and often other subjects such as child birth teaching, massage, or rebozo technique
  • Certification and membership fees to reputable organizations which lend both credibility and accountability
  • The time and travel for prenatal appointments
  • Time and research that goes into prenatal support, including phone calls, instant messaging and emails
  • An on-call period that usually lasts about 2-4 weeks, wherein we are ready to drop whatever we are doing, (day or night) and get to your side as soon as we are needed, at a moment's notice
  • The time spent at the birth itself, which can span up to two or three days
  • The cost of child care for those of us who have children of our own
  • Our experience, and our mental, physical and emotional energy
  • The cost of the self care necessary for us to remain healthy and able, including nutrition, massage and chiropractic care

Birth work is some of the most rewarding, yet utterly exhausting work there is. We sacrifice much for the passion and love we have for this work. It is worth every bit of effort for the results we see, but earning a decent wage helps us off-set the costs to us and our families.

Within the average range of what we charge, and with all the costs we accrue, even very financially conservative doulas end up making an hourly wage of around $20-$25 an hour, much of which ends up going into the taxes we pay at the end of the year.

At the end of the day, we don't do it for the money. The income sustains our work and makes it possible for us to continue to serve birthing families, which is the goal.

Studies have shown that receiving the continuous support of a doula can reduce your chances of receiving narcotics or a cesarean significantly. Even just from a financial stand point, it's a worthy investment, as most doulas charge far less than a hospital anesthesiologist.

So how can you afford a doula? Here are a few simple ideas to make it easier for you to manage:
1. Ask for donations toward a doula at your baby shower.
2. Barter or trade. Many doulas will work for trade, or negotiate prices.
3. Work out a payment plan with your doula of choice. Many offer interest-free options.
4. Utilize your HSA or FSA plan. Although we aren't usually covered by insurance, many doulas (myself included) accept payment via your HSA or FSA card.
5. Be frugal. Cut your excess spending on eating out, new clothes or accessories, or other luxuries.

The memories you make in birth will last you a lifetime. When you improve birth outcomes, you improve overall maternal health. For more information on how I can help provide a positive, memorable experience for you and your family, connect with me. Thanks!