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, birth and postpartum!
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.
- Many times a Doula maybe laying on the floor or sitting in a chair near you during very long labors without complaining.
- 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.
- This maybe her only income source.
- Your Doula is privately retained - she works with and for you and is an advocate for your best interests.
- Your Doula also ensures that your children's and spouses needs are supported to so he can support you.
- Dad has the home court advantage. He can turn to the Doula when he's not quite sure about something.
- Doula is a huge part of the birthing team - you tell her what your vision is and she helps you make it happen.
- You retain or employ the services of a health care provider - it makes sense to have a Doula for all the other needs not provided by that health practitioner.
- A Doula empowers a young mother to be all that she can be. A Doula is a life event coach through the birth.
- A Doula unselfishly gives up her family's needs for yours.
- A Doula is all about prevention over intervention - you don't even want to know what you prevented. They involve emotional, physical or financial costs.
Many women are surprised to find that their Doulas actually aren’t making much money at all. Sometimes when I break down my fee into hours worked for a single family, I’ve made as little as zero (Pro Bono) or $2.50/hour, on up; but some Doulas will tell you that they have never made more than minimum wage. (Granted, some Doula's fees are pretty cheap, others are a fair exchange of time and money.) This gives you an idea of what many Doulas are making when it is broken down.
A Doula always wants to bring more value to the family she is serving. It is a passion, a life style, a gift of love to serve your family. We can't tell you how many parents have told Doulas (after the birth) that what we provided was worth TWICE what we charge. And some are not cheap! But, when there is a real need, the Doula community comes alongside a family because it is the foundation of our country's best interests. The Golden Rule Paying it Forward ALWAYS pays.
It really should never be about the money for a Doula or anyone else…but never, ever, treat anyone just like an employee. Instead, it is a partnership on a mission to achieve your dreams.
It should be about respecting yourself and your professional birthing team's 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.