Why do doulas cost so much? This question has a variety of answers. For one, the cost of a doula varies depending on where you live, as does the cost of anything. In a small rural community, a doula might only be a few hundred dollars. In cities such as New York and Washington, DC, they are usually in the thousands. This has a lot to do with cost of living, operating expenses, etc.
In our area standard doula packages are often between $700 and $900. Packages with more advanced services such as reiki, photography, private childbirth classes, extra postpartum support, or other extra support will cost even more. Doulas with extra skills and certifications often charge more for their packages because the client is getting the benefits of their additional skills.
When you are hiring a doula, you are paying for a lot of different services. You are paying for her education and experience. Doulas are experts in labor support, the physiology of pregnancy and birth, and how to navigate the policies and protocols of their local birthing facilities. Many have advanced training and education in other areas. You are also paying for her time. A doula comes to you, and can spend up to three hours or more with you during your prenatal visits. She also spends a lot of time behind the scenes preparing for these visits. Your doula wants to make sure she can answer all of your questions related to your specific situation. In addition, she will be with you for a few hours during your postpartum visit after the birth. Speaking of the birth…
Most doulas are on call for births from 38 weeks to 42 weeks. This is an entire month of her life that she puts on hold for you. It means she can’t go on vacation, or anywhere that’s more than an hour or two away. It means she might plan a birthday party for her child, but could miss it. It means she can’t have more than one or two glasses of wine at any given time. It means she has to get enough rest, eat well so she doesn’t get sick, have babysitters and backup lined up at a moments notice, have her phone on loud, and generally be “on point” while she waits for your call. Our doula packages also involve 24-hour text and phone support, meaning we are always available to answer any questions you might have.
More importantly, the birth itself can be anywhere from a couple hours, to a couple days! Many doulas have at least one birth where they end up being with a laboring mama for 48 hours or more. If you break down their fee based solely on hourly work, they end up making less than minimum wage! One of the benefits of a doula is that she provides you with continuous support. Unlike nurses and doctors her shift doesn’t end until a couple hours after your baby is born. During incredibly long births your doula might snatch a cat nap, but for the most part she is with you, supporting you, the entire time.
Birth work is incredibly rewarding, but it is also very emotionally and physically draining. Your doula puts a lot of time and effort into the service that she provides for you! When broken down, you get a lot for what you are paying.