So now you know what a doula is and are considering hiring one for your birth or postpartum. You know that a doula will provide great emotional and practical support. You know they’ll direct you to helpful resources and provide you with useful information. There’s just one more question on your list: How much does a doula cost?
The (unsatisfying) answer: It varies!
Depending on the part of the country (or world) that a doula is practicing in, their fees can range widely. You’ll typically pay more in a big city and less in a rural or suburban area. Complicating this is the fact that some doulas may charge an hourly fee while others may charge a package rate for various services they provide. Some doulas may work with your HSA or FSA, but in general, a doula is an out-of-pocket expense.
While some doulas run their own businesses, others work in collectives as community-based doulas. These doulas provide free or reduced-price services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford doula services. In general, doula services are not covered by health insurance or Medicaid.
On average, birth doulas typically range from $200 to upwards of $2000, depending on your area, the doula’s experience, and other services offered. Postpartum doulas usually charge $25-$75 an hour, depending on where you live, their experience, and daytime vs. nighttime shift.
Why you’ll want to hire a doula
No matter what your financial background may be, you can benefit from hiring a doula.
Birth doulas provide excellent support and care for you before, during, and shortly after your birth. Studies show that birth persons who use a birth doula are also less likely to need interventions and have an overall more positive experience with their birth.
Likewise, postpartum doulas provide great emotional and practical support to new parents after the birth of their baby. Postpartum doulas can teach you helpful tips for infant care while supporting you in your adjustment to new parenthood. Couples who use postpartum doulas have better breast/bodyfeeding outcomes as well as improved postpartum mental health.
How to see if a doula’s right for you
Before jumping into the doula search, make sure you know what your values are and what you’re looking for. Are you searching for someone who will be a great companion or someone who can teach you how to care for your baby? Someone who will help you to adjust to a new normal or someone who can simply help you get through the day to day? (A postpartum doula is essentially all of these things!)
One of the best ways to see if hiring a doula is right for you is to talk with someone who has used one. Get their take on the experience and see if a doula was helpful for them. Chances are, their doula was probably a great helper during the fourth trimester!
If you do decide to hire a doula, start your search off right: Look through doula-certifying organizations’ directories of doulas or try searching for independent doulas online. Once you hit the second trimester, go ahead and begin interviewing doulas to find one who’s a good fit for you. Make sure to ask each doula you interview about their training and certification, their previous experience, what services they offer, and their fees. When preparing questions for your interviews, check out DONA International’s doula hiring guide, a document that lists helpful questions for you to ask prospective doulas.
After your interviews, ask yourself some questions. Consider each doula’s compatibility with you and your partner and think about how you would feel with each particular doula in your home. Compare fees and services to figure out what you’re looking for and how much you want to pay for it. Remember that a doula is someone who will be interacting with you in your private space, so you’ll want to feel very comfortable with them in addition to simply getting all of the services you’re looking for!
No matter your budget, there are doula options for you. You may have to search to find them, but don’t get discouraged if you feel like your search is taking a long time. With some time and patience, you will find the doula who’s right for you.