No one said pregnancy and childbirth would be easy, but everyone agrees that, in the end, it will be worth it. Having extra help can ease you and your family’s concerns, which is why many expectant mothers opt to hire a doula.
A doula is a trained maternal support companion who provides emotional, informational, and psycho-social care in all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
How Much Does a Doula Cost?
The average cost of a birth doula falls anywhere between $500 (in training) and $2500 (enhanced services). This range is just a ballpark figure that can go up or down depending on various factors.
4 Factors That Influence the Cost of a Doula
1. Their Experience
A doula’s experience is typically measured in the number of births they’ve attended.
2. Your Location
Doulas in big cities typically charge more than those in rural areas or those with a lower cost of living.
3. Frequency of Visits
Whether you use the services of a doula on a weekly or monthly basis or more frequently as birth nears will affect the overall cost.
4. Their Skillset
Skillsets will vary by the individual and their level of experience. Most doulas are typically able to offer any or all of the following:
- Assisting during hospital birthing/home birth
- Monitoring at home
- Can join you in the hospital to perform non-medical roles
- Dropping in and talking through concerns
Are Doulas the Same as Midwives?
To explain it simply, certified midwives can do what doulas do, but the reverse isn’t true.
The main difference between midwives and doulas is that the former provides medical care during pregnancy and birth. On the other hand, doulas aren’t allowed to go beyond the non-medical roles we had listed earlier.
Even when part of the package includes accompanying you to the hospital, they can’t address anything medical-related.
A midwife’s primary concern is for you to have a safe and healthy baby. The doula’s focus is on you and the family.
Is a Doula Really Necessary?
Of course, a doula isn’t absolutely necessary since you’ll have nurses and doctors as part of the entire prenatal and post-natal journey. However, medical staff won’t be with you constantly.
You will likely appreciate having a non-medic in the room—and remember, a doula’s full attention is on you.
Pregnancy and childbirth both have their ups and downs along the way. It also helps a lot if you have someone with just enough knowledge to help you understand the processes.
In terms of costs, they charge much less compared to what a trained medic would, significantly reducing your birth budget when it comes to asking questions and getting non-medical advice.
Skilled doulas even offer special services like prenatal massages and birthing classes.
Should I Have a Doula or My Partner Present During Labor?
The two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have both.
A doula can actually help them help you. Case in point, should you need your back massaged, the doula can show your partner how to do it in a way that enables you to get some relief.
Also, have you seen or heard men’s experiences in labor rooms? Your partner may have intended to remain with you until the end, but as things unfold, the reality may sometimes be too much for them to stomach. Some even faint.
Do I Need a Doula if I Have an Epidural?
Many people think that doulas are only essential for mothers who have opted for a “natural birth.” Contrary to that opinion, settling for an epidural shouldn’t stop you from having a doula present.
Remember, during childbirth, the main role of a doula is to provide help and support- and you will need them in abundance! Just because you’ve chosen pain relief doesn’t mean you no longer need support during labor.
Please don’t treat this as fear-mongering, but it’s indeed true that an epidural isn’t the silver lining you were counting on in some instances. If you have a doula around, she will quickly walk with you through a recourse.
So, yes, even if you’re planning to get an epidural, you can still use a doula’s services for:
- Early labor support
- Position changes
- Post-natal care
Pro tip: Check with your insurance. Some include reimbursing doula services as part of their wellness program, just as gym or weight loss programs.
How much Do Post-Natal Doulas Cost?
Once again, the logistics vary depending on factors similar to what we’ve mentioned above. If you reside in big cities like Washington DC, you’ll have to cough out more bucks than in places like Austin.
The well-trained ones charge between $35-$65 per hour in the cities.
In smaller towns, you’ll find a $25-$45 hourly rate.
The International Childbirth Education Association recommends a doula to help you and your family transition in the following 11 areas:
- Emotional support
- Physical comfort
- Infant care
- Informational support
- Partner/father support
- Support mother/father with an infant
- Support mother/father with sibling(s)
- Household organization
In the meantime, you can shower, nap, or relax because you’ll need as much help and rest as possible. (source)
Where Can I Find a Doula?
Finding a certified doula is a no-brainer. Your solution is at DONA International. It’s a world-class organization that trains and certifies doulas. The straightforward website connects you to a doula in no time. You’ll also find a lot of valuable resources detailing everything doula-related.
Besides this organization, the internet also has more options like individual doula profiles.
Seeking a doula within your budget range is a wise decision.
It’s okay to not vibe with her at the onset, but if you both know what you want out of this, the chemistry will brew with time. However, if it’s not working, you don’t have to bend over backward to accommodate her. Interview many, then settle with the best one for you.
Some of the areas to touch on during an interview include:
- Their experience
- Their philosophy about pregnancy, vaginal birth, CS, epidural
- The specific services they provide and any extra costs
- Most challenging vs. the smoothest birth they’ve attended
- Their scope of work
You have nine months to prepare for eternal love, and sourcing for doula services is a prudent decision.
We read far and wide before writing this article. Here are the resources used:
- Coverage for doula services: how state Medicaid programs can address concerns about maternity care costs and quality (nih.gov)