Recently, I completed an interview with a potential client who asked me an important question. “Why are doula fees all over the place?” she wondered. She had seen postpartum doula fees ranging from $25 hourly to up to $70 hourly. She wanted to understand the reason that doulas charge such drastically different fees. Her question was a very good one. It can be difficult to understand how doulas set their fees without first understanding the many components of a doula’s job.
Firstly, doulas are unregulated! The majority of doulas are self-employed or work as independent contractors. Doulas can work within the medical system but are not paid by the hospitals or birth centers that they work with. This means that doulas are responsible for setting their own fees. A doula has the ability to set her own fee based on several factors, including experience and the types of certifications that she holds.
At first glance, the fee for birth doula services in the DMV can seem steep. Most doulas charge between $800 and $2,000. That is not a small purchase for most of us! However, in order to understand the birth doula fee, it is necessary to break down the services that the doula provides. Here at Madam Doula, we charge $1,400 for our most popular birth doula package. Let’s break down what the package entails:
2 prenatal visits (2 hours each)
Labor and delivery support (On average, 12 hours of labor support per client)
1 postpartum visit (1 hour)
Text and call support from 38 weeks onward
Text and call support for 2 weeks following the birth
This brings the total number of in-person support hours to about 17 hours per client, on average. However, we are not compensated solely for our in-person support! We support our clients virtually prior to the birth, completing numerous text exchanges, emails, and phone calls. This virtual support continues into the postpartum period as well.
A huge reason that doulas price themselves the way that we do is to compensate fairly for the time that we spend on-call. You really can’t put a price on the on-call aspect of our work. I have been called numerous times in the middle of the night. I have been called in to work on Thanksgiving Day, my husband’s birthday, and even my own birthday. I have missed family gatherings and social events. Because I am on-call, I need to stay close geographically to my clients as they approach their due dates. I am not able to enjoy trips out to the mountains or the ocean on the weekends that I am on-call. However, I am not at all complaining! I am merely spelling out the reason that we have set our prices the way that we have. Doulas make many sacrifices in their personal lives in order to attend their clients’ births. I believe that the pricing of our services is fair compensation for these sacrifices.
Postpartum doulas complete many services within the client’s home. Our company prices our daytime services at $40 hourly and our nighttime services at $45 hourly. People who don’t understand the role of a postpartum doula have said to me in the past “Wow! You’re a very expensive babysitter”. People need to understand that when they hire a postpartum doula, they are not working with a babysitter, but instead with someone who is able to support the entire family through the postpartum period. Sure, infant care is a major facet of our job. However, the last time I checked, your average babysitter does not have a strong knowledge of lactation or postpartum healing practices. You won’t find them in the kitchen preparing a nourishing bone broth for a new mother or teaching a new dad about infant massage. When you hire a postpartum doula, you are hiring someone who has the numerous skills needed to provide customized, loving care to you, your partner, your new baby, and your other children.
At the end of the day, even when presented with all of this information, some people balk at the price point of a doula and decide that their services aren’t worth the fee. That’s fine! We love our jobs, and we will continue to price ourselves in alignment with our experience and skills.