What should you pay your doula? (and if you are a doula, what should you be charging?!)
Salt Lake City, UT, is full of doulas, women helping women to have babies. Even though we have a great doula organization, there is some debate about how much a doula should be paid for her work.
Have you ever asked yourself, “why do doulas charge so much?” And honestly, I hope to show doulas why they are worth so much more then most of them charge.
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 moms during the course of their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum:
Pregnancy and Labor Package
- Initial consultation meeting – Approx. 2 hours
- Two prenatal meetings Approx. 4 hours
- ASAP telephone, text, and email support during contact hours (8am-8pm) Average 6 hours
- 24/7 on call within 2 weeks of your estimated due date – I'll talk on call rate low down
- Around the clock Labor and Birth support once labor has begun – 12 hours (average)
- 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
Now, there is a low hourly rate the professionals charge in addition to their hourly rate, which works about to range from $.15-$30 per hour. If we go with the conservative amount of $.15 an hour for 2 weeks, which is the average amount from 37-42 weeks gestation for a mom. This works out to be $51
TravelThe average trip I make to meet with clients is approximately 35 miles one way.
- Trip time (based on 5 trips) – 10 hours
- Gas costs (based on 35 miles one way – 5 trips) – $55
Childcare & Food Costs
- Childcare – Approximately $150 per client including visits and birth
- Food During Birth – Approximately $10 depending on the length of birth
- Materials for Clients – Approximately $20
Total Time and Out of Pocket Expenses
- Time – 39 hours
- Childcare – $150
- Food – $10
- Gas – $55
- Misc – $20
- On-Call - $51
Let’s do the Math
Doula Fee – $300 – this is the low end in Utah.
Less Expenses - (-$286)
Remainder applied towards hours of work (39) - $14 (this is what the doula is getting paid)
Approximately $.36 per hour
Doula Fee – $500 – average in Utah
Less Expenses – (-$286)
Remainder applied toward hours of work (39) – $214 (this is what the doula is getting paid)Approximately $5.49 per hour - this is not even minimum wage
Doula Fee – $700
Less Expenses -(-$286)
Remainder applied toward hours of work (39) - $414 (this is what the doula is getting paid)Approximately $10.61 per hour
Doula Fee – $900
Less Expenses - (-$286)
Remainder applied toward hours of work (39) - $614Approximately $15.74 per hour
Now according to Living Wage, the living wage for Salt Lake City, UT is $19.05.
“The living wage shown is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family.” (according to http://livingwage.mit.edu)
So, in order for me to get paid the minimum living wage for SLC:
Doula Fee – $1050
Less Expenses - (-$286)
Remainder applied toward hours of work (39) - $764Approximately $19.58 per hour
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!)!
And in all of these expenses, I did not list the advertizing time and money that a doula spends, I did not list the addition times I end up at a moms house helping with breastfeeding. All of these are extra costs that I have, that I did not factor in to all of this.
What I am hoping by posting this article is that those who are looking to hire a doula can understand why it is so important to be willing to understand why she has listed her prices where she has.
And secondly, I hope to help all those doulas out there who are unsure of what they should charge for their time and energy, that they are worth more than they think.