How a doula sets her fees may be a mystery for some people. Keep in mind the following:
- I’ll probably spend about, on average, 21 hours with you in person at prenatals, postpartum visits, and the birth itself. If you add in phone calls, emails, and time I spend on my own preparing for our visits and the birth itself, That’s at least another 5 hours. That comes out to about $33 an hour, before expenses and self-employment taxes – it comes out to less than half that if you factor in those, so more like $15 an hour is my take-home pay. If you add in the time I spend thinking about you and how I can help improve your birth experience on a personal level, hours begin to approach the infinite!
- I’m committed to taking only one client a month so I can give you the attention you need. (Four is considered a full-time work load.) At the most I’ll have 12 clients a year.
- Because I’m self-employed, I pay about half of what I earn into taxes and other business expense.
- No one is going to get rich doing doula work. But I firmly believe that it is some of the most important work a person can do and it deserves a living wage, although I’m a long way from earning a living wage from my fees. There may be other doulas who charge less but I believe they are undervaluing their services and the profession and often burn out from the late nights, long hours and life interruptions that is intrinsic to birth work. I love this job and don’t want to have to give up supporting women so am setting my fees at a realistic price comparable to a low national average. Many area doulas have stopped working who charged less – they were often busy but couldn’t cover their expenses. If you come across a doula undercharging, tell her so and pay her more! It benefits everyone if she stays in the business.
- Keep in mind how much you and others spend for your baby equipment, nursery decorations and other items to prepare for the birth of your child. Often doula fees are a fraction of that cost. When people ask what you want for a baby shower present, tell them you would like money to go toward paying for a doula! Alternatively, I can create a gift certificate for a nice present.
- Advocate with your human resources department, insurance company, hospital, doctor/midwife and state legislature to get doula services covered! Doulas actually save hospitals, doctors and insurance companies money by reducing the need for expensive interventions. Spread the word about the care you received by a doula and how it improved your quality of care. Someday, hopefully, it will be standard practice to have a doula in labor and our services will be reimbursable by insurance. For now, ask me for a receipt and “pay it forward” by turning it into your insurance company…knowing you probably will not be reimbursed. The more insurance adjusters see the word “doula” in front of them, the more chances it will someday be covered!