A Breakdown of a Doula’s Fees – Why Doulas Charge What they Do


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Attending births and providing support to expectant Momma’s is one of the greatest passions in my life. Being in a position that positively encourages a Women’s desire to have the birth she wants while supporting her journey is one of the most humbling honors… educating, enlightening and empowering…

There are some AMAZING Doula’s from San Antonio to Austin. From the ones just starting out to the ones who have led the way for people like me, and even those who have taken the next step and passed over into Midwifery. It is such a blessing to be in the company of such incredible Women.

One of the biggest and most pressing questions potential clients want to know from the start is how much I charge for my services. There is always this lingering sense to me that Doula Services are just lined along the driveway of a garage sale and the one with the cutest look, lots of miles and cheapest price is the one that people are looking for. Lets examine that for just a moment.

Cutest Look

  • Okay, let’s be honest here. Everyone judges a book by it’s cover whether meant to or not. The look is the first impression. But what does the look really say about the care and dedication that will be provided when it really matters? No Doula is going to show up to a birth looking the way she did in the initial meeting anymore than she is going to expect her client to look the way she did after 10+ hours of intense labor. There is work to be done. Take the time to really search out the heart of the Doula, interview several, even the one you might consider to be the least compatible at first glance, and find the one that is right for you on every level, not just one or two. Also consider who their back-up Doula is, or their partner Doula, and make sure that falls in line with what you are seeking as your support system as well.

Lots of Miles

  • The Experienced Doula – I am not in any way knocking experience here! Not for a moment. I personally have 15+ years of experience working with expectant Mother’s. I am comfortable charging for my services and knowing that the care I provide is well worth above and beyond what I charge. I also want my services to be affordable to families. Every family deserves support and care, regardless of circumstance. The Doula with a great deal of experience is often scrutinized for what appears to be such a high fee range without really taking into consideration her training, experience, or how the individual services might add up.
  • The New Doula – When you move or take a break from Doula-ing to have more children and then begin to offer care service again, you often end up back at square one on the “New Doula Block.” It takes a lot of time and investment to get the wheels rolling. For the New-new Doula’s, It does sometimes hurt my heart a bit when I see new Doula’s cast aside for lack of experience. There is something to be said for the spirit of the new Doula, the tenacity, the excitement, the eagerness to learn. This should be bottled and used for every ounce it is worth! This eagerness is often taken advantage of by her feeling obligated to offer services for FREE, or at extremely reduced rates, regardless of training or her expenses to provide care services from pregnancy, through labor & birth and into postpartum. While I understand the viewpoint on this, (She can do the birth for free and gain experience), I also understand the cost of volunteering to be ones Doula. The time and the financial investment of that new Doula. In all honesty, the Doula’s with more experience and a greater client base are the ones who have much more wiggle room to volunteer services on occasion, often without such a pinch to themselves financially. Be understanding that while a new Doula is willing to trade the service for free to gain the experience, what she is really doing is paying to learn from that experience and then also providing you with a valuable service that she is also paying for. Yes, this means that the Doula is paying to be your Doula. New Doula’s who set a minimal fee are often just asking to break even and not really profiting at all.

Cheapest Price – The cheapest price really does not mean the best value with this kind of service. We are talking about birth here and the person you are entrusting to provide support and guidance through that journey, not the greatest bargain on the dollar shelf. It really comes down to understanding the in’s and out’s of the cost of Doula Care for the Client and for the Doula.

“Why do Doula’s charge so much?”

I think that when people often look into Doula Care, and are shocked by the cost, they are only considering the reflection of that cost as it pertains to the Doula’s presence at their birth ONLY. Not realizing the other services which are included in that cost. Let’s break it down.

Aside from the cost of education, books, workshops, continued education, and advertising (website, cards, brochures), we also take into consideration the time that it takes for all of these, as well as out of pocket expenses.

Let’s just break down one of my packages in terms of time that I spend with my clients during the course of their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum:

Pregnancy, Labor & Birth Package §

  • Initial consultation meeting – Approximately 2 hours (plus gas and drive time)
  • Two prenatal meetings (One can be at a prenatal appointment to meet your caregiver.) Approximately 4 hours (Plus gas and drive time)
  • Birth Plan Assistance – Average, off and on, 1-2 hours
  • ASAP telephone, text, and email support during contact hours (8am-8pm) Average 4 hours
  • 24/7 On-Call period 2 weeks before/after your estimated due date – Typically 38-42 weeks gestation

This can be a 4 – 5 week On-Call 24/7

Can you really put a time on that?

Would you really want a Doula to put a price on that?

  • Around the clock Labor and Birth support once labor has begun – 10+ hours 

This is a VERY low estimate. The duration of labor can vary drastically. While a comfortable average can be estimated at about 10 hours, there is no extra charge for labors which are 36+ hours, just as there is no less charge for a -2 hour labor.

  • Immediate postpartum support of approximately 2-3 hours, or until the baby has nursed successfully and the family is settled – 2-3 hours
  • Two postpartum visit to discuss your birth, share photos, dote over your new arrival, discuss options for additional support (breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, etc.) – Approximately 4 hours (Plus gas and drive time)

With these approximations, we’re looking at about 25-30 hours, in the least, just for interaction with my clients, If you add in another estimated 3 hours for research, paperwork, etc., that goes into setting up each client, we’re well over 28-32 hours.

Travel

The average trip I make to meet with clients is approximately 30-40 miles one way.  These estimates are based on this Miles Per Dollar Calculator and my vehicle.

  • Trip time (based on 5 trips) – 7.5 hours
  • Gas costs (based on 35 miles one way – 5 trips) – $94.34

Childcare & Food Costs

  • Childcare – Approximately $100 per client including visits and birth
  • Food During Birth – Approximately $10 depending on the length of birth

Miscellaneous Costs

  • Hospital Parking and tolls – Approximately $10
  • Materials for Clients – Approximately $5
  • Credit Card or Paypal Fees –Approximately 2%-3%

Total Time and Out of Pocket Expenses

  • Time – 38 hours
  • Childcare – $100
  • Food – $10
  • Gas – $94
  • Misc – $15

Total Out of Pocket Expenses – $219

Let’s do the Math

Remember the Taxes
Don’t forget that you’re looking at state or federal tax (depending on where you live and what bracket you fall into) and you also have the 13.3% Self Employment Tax (that’s the state of Texas – 10.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare).This is figured for the State of Texas and DOES NOT include Income Tax because that would depend on your tax bracket.

Doula Fee –  $400

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $181

Approximately $4.76 per hour (not even minimum wage) – $53.20 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $500

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $281

Approximately $7.39 per hour – $66.50 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $600

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $381

Approximately $10.03 per hour – $79.80 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $700

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $481

Approximately $12.66 per hour – $93.10 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $800

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $581

Approximately $15.29 per hour – $106.40 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $900

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $681

Approximately $17.92 per hour – $119.70 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee –  $1,000

Less Expenses – (-$219)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (38) – $781

Approximately $20.55 per hour – $133.00 Self Employment Tax

Again, this is based on my personal time and expenses. Of course, over the duration of my time with a client, I can spend more or less one on one time.  This is all approximations.

In the grand scheme of things, you’re paying for an invaluable service during your pregnancy, labor, and birth. The difference a Doula can make during this time is often priceless. The least that can be done is to pay her asking fee.

Do you think that an OB or Midwife would lower his/her costs if a mom told him/her that the fees just are not in their family’s budget? This does happen on occasion with Midwives who are blessed with the ability or position to be a bit flexible, but you would never see this with an OB. Doula’s are a valuable asset to a mom’s birth team. A Doula stays at your side from beginning to end, while your OB watches from afar and only comes in right before baby is preparing to make their grand appearance. We Doula’s have bills to pay and responsibilities just as every other family. The electric company is not going to waive or reduce our monthly bill because it doesn’t fit into our budgets! Our time is valuable and we selflessly give of it to our client’s – just ask our Husband’s and children whom we have missed Holiday’s, birthday’s, and even High School Graduations to be with our client’s, selflessly. Mother’s labor in love for their babies and Doula’s labor in love for their client’s.

A Special Thank You

I want to take a moment and thank the very brilliant Doula, Lisa Johnston of “In The Beginning Doula Services,” for the time and effort that she put into putting this statistical information together for Doula’s to use as a resource for themselves and their clients. It has reminded me that I should not undercharge myself for all of the work which goes into what I do to provide the best of care to my clients and I hope that it will open the eyes of expectant families, to see clearly how and why Doula’s set their rates the way that they do, and the value of the care provided to them, even though a time clock is not punched.

This information was changed and altered to accurately reflect my personal time of investment and expenditures, as well as my own personal viewpoints.

 

Reference Resource

In The Beginning Doula Services

Recommended Additional Reading

What Makes Up a Doula’s Fees?


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