When people see a doula’s fee that is several hundred dollars, or even going into the thousands, they often wonder what in the world could cost so much about “supporting” them through labor and birth!
So what exactly are you paying for when you hire a doula? Your money goes towards…
- Her training.
- Her level of experience.
- Her knowledge of pregnancy, physiologic labor, natural childbirth, medicated childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care.
- Her constant stream of informational support throughout your time working together.
- Her emotional encouragement and sensitivity.
- Her physical support in assisting with comfort means during labor. (This can actually be fairly difficult physical labor for the doula- though granted, not as hard as the mother’s work.)
- Her unbiased assessment of your labor and presentation of options.
- Her unflagging commitment to help protect your birth plan, and her flexibility to help you in a new direction if you change your mind or need medical intervention.
- An extra set of hands to take care of small jobs so you and your partner can focus on the birth.
- Her communication skills- with you, your other support team members, and with your care providers.
- Her time at prenatal & postpartum visits.
- Her on-call availability 24/7, for 4-6 weeks, during your “due window.”
- Her phone and email availability during your entire contracted time period.
- Her hours of behind-the-scenes research on your behalf.
- Her hours at your birth- often without any limits or breaks.
- Possible prevention of other costly and undesirable interventions through use of natural comfort means, physiologic tricks for labor, and constant encouragement.
- Her gas expenses in getting to and from appointments and your birth.
- Her babysitting expenses if she has children of her own.
- Her food expenses while she is at your birth.
- Any supplies she brings for you and your family.
Although a flat rate charge of several hundred dollars can seem intimidating to you at first when shopping for a doula, remember that she can save you thousands more in other interventions- and more importantly, she can help you to make your birth what you hope it will be- a positive, calm, and blessed experience.
Many women are surprised to find that their doulas actually aren’t making much money at all. When I break down my fee into hours worked for a single family, I’ve made as little as $2.50/hour, and have never made more than minimum wage. (Granted, my fee is pretty cheap, but still- it gives you an idea of what many doulas are making.)
It really should never be about the money for a doula… It should be about respecting your intelligence and ability to make informed decisions for you and your baby. It should be about giving you the tools you need to have the birth that you want. It should be about protecting the parents’ desires and the mother’s dignity. It should be about supporting and ministering to a family during a life-changing event in their lives.
It should be about all the love she brings to her work, and to you and your family. Period.