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  • Writer's pictureHands and Hearts Birth

What's the bottom line...How much does a Doula cost?

A lot of families may have heard the term Doula already, but maybe you still aren't completely sure what that means in terms of how it could benefit your pregnancy and birth experience.

One way a Doula can help you is during pregnancy. We get to know you and what your pregnancy dreams are. Maybe you want a hospital birth complete with all the pain meds and nursing care. Perhaps you had that planned once before and ended up having a cesarean. Maybe you need a hospital birth do to some risks your doctor has mentioned, but you still want it to be as natural an experience as you can make it. Perhaps all of your friends have told you about their birth experiences and you're wanting to separate the facts from the myths. You may have even thought about a homebirth.

A Doula can totally help you in any of those birthing situations!

What exactly are my Birth Services? I am going thru the necessary certification to become a Labor Doula…and a Postpartum Doula…and a Bereavement Doula.

As a Labor Doula…

  • Meet with you and your partner to discuss your needs and desires for labor, birth and postpartum; help define and understand your expectations, provide you with informational, emotional, and physical support and encouragement, as well as some useful, practical tools for your labor and birth.

  • Birth Preferences assistance to help you clarify your desires for birth and explain the options available to you

  • Share some resources to encourage your own learning, such as books, videos, websites, and more, regarding pregnancy, labor and delivery, baby care, and motherhood.

  • I am there with you as long as you need me, providing continuous support to both you and your partner for the duration of your labor and birth…whether this lasts 3 hours or 3 days!

  • I can help you with that Golden Hour immediately following your child’s birth, helping you establish your relationship, initial breastfeeding support, bonding, etc.

  • We will share 2 postpartum visits to celebrate your baby’s arrival, answer any questions or address any concerns you have as you start your journey to motherhood for the first time or even the 5th time.

  • Unlimited phone, text, or email support to share information and answer questions during your pregnancy and early labor.

As a Postpartum Doula…

  • 4 visits (more if you’d like) to help encourage and maintain breastfeeding, ask questions, address your concerns about issues of motherhood, etc

  • Unlimited phone, text, email support for a full 6 weeks postpartum period

  • Emotional and physical support for your recovery

  • I can help you with light housekeeping, meal prep, sibling care, etc. to help your get into your new routine

  • Assistance with newborn care (bathing, feeding, diapering, comfort measures, etc)

  • How to recognize signs of postpartum depression

  • traditional methods of birth recovery

As a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Doula, I will be there with you for you to lean on, to cry on, and to talk to about the grief process involved with losing a child at any stage during pregnancy or early life. I have walked that path myself, knowing ahead of time what our outcome would be, waiting for that final day to arrive, having to say goodbye and find a way to gather mementos of her brief life, then begin to learn to process all the feelings of grief we go thru. I want to be there to help other parents during this season of their lives.

But....How much does a Doula cost?

There has been a great deal of discussion as to how much a doula charges and what the fees are for. I found a great article by another blogger, detailing typical client fees and how she arrives at her amount, what it’s used for, etc. I’ll share it here so you can see the process behind the business end of Doula services.

For myself, I want to be available to ALL potential clients, regardless of their ability to pay, but of course, I need to be compensated for the educational costs, the materials and supplies used, and so on.

It is a passion of mine, but at the end of the day, it is also a business, and I have a family and household to provide for like everyone else.

My ultimate plan is to work on a sliding scale for each family, and of course, I am very open to bartering for services.

A fellow doula I know online had cordwood delivered to her all winter in return for her services!

Most people tend to view free as not being very valuable and will often place more importance, more worth, on something they pay for, even if the amount is small. In my area, bartering is also perceived as having more ‘worth’ than free services. It will take a while for me to find that perfect zone, where I can provide the services I want for every family and still have the material needs to make it a practical venture, etc. There is a lot of time, research, printing and other needs in creating any business and a Doula business is no different.

My bottom line...don't let the idea of a Doula being expensive keep you from reaching out. Every doula, every region, has different needs in terms of finances. In many areas Doula services are now being considered by insurance companies as well! Contact a doula in your area and see what they have to offer that may perk for you and her both!

Here's that post I mentioned breaking it all down:

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

Pregnancy Package Breakdown:

  • Initial consultation meeting – Approximately 2 hours

  • Two prenatal meetings (One can be at a prenatal appointment to meet your caregiver.) Approximately 4 hours

  • Birth Plan Assistance – Average, off and on, 1-2 hours

  • ASAP telephone, text, and email support during contact houHere’s that breakdown article I mentioned…rs (8am-8pm) Average 4 hours

  • 24/7 on call within 2 weeks of your estimated due date –

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

  • Pictures of labor and birth with my camera as well as yours

  • Immediate postpartum support of approximately 2-3 hours, or until the baby has nursed successfully and the family is settled – 2-3 hours

  • One 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 2 hours

With these approximations, we’re looking at about 25 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 at 28 hours.

Travel time

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) – $53.75

In all reality, so far I have traveled more in the 80-100 mile range for visits...

Childcare and 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 (if you accept this form of payment – Thanks Robin!) – Approximately 2%-3%

Total Time and Costs

  • Time – 36 hours

  • Childcare – $100

  • Food – $10

  • Gas – $54

  • Misc – $15

Let's do the Math...And don't forget 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 a 13.3% Self Employment Tax (that’s the state of Texas – 10.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare). Thank you, Susan, for reminding me!

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 – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $221

Approximately $6.14 per hour (not even minimum wage) – $53.20 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $500

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $321

Approximately $8.92 per hour – $66.50 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $600

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $421

Approximately $11.69 per hour – $79.80 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $700

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $521

Approximately $14.47 per hour – $93.10 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $800

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $621

Approximately $17.25 per hour – $106.40 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $900

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $721

Approximately $20.03 per hour – $119.70 Self Employment Tax

Doula Fee – $1,000

Less Expenses – (-$179)

Remainder applied toward hours of work (36) – $821

Approximately $22.81 per hour – $133.00 Self Employment Tax

Again, this is based on my 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 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? Doulas are a valuable asset to a mom’s birth team. Our time is also valuable – just ask our kids (and the electric company who won’t waive our monthly bill because it doesn’t fit into our budgets!)!

#alternativechildbirth #optimallabor #gettingreadyforchildbirth #childbirth

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