In my childbirth classes, people often ask me about hiring a Doula - what a Doula does and what goes into the investment. Over the years, my own fees have risen with experience and realizing the amount of time that I actually put right back into the families I serve. At the same time, my commitment to working with family budgets and making sure each family gets customized care has stayed strong. So, how do Doulas come to certain fees?
First of all, a shout-out to my Doula Friends! It's a real calling to do this work! Doulas come to this work because of a love for support and service, a respect for the significance of the birth experience, and sometimes out of personal experience and the desire to make change for families. No Doula I have ever met thinks, "Wow! This is a real money-making job!" Each time a problem was encountered in our real life as mothers, we just took it a step further by finding extra means of learning more about it and integrating those experiences and education into a professional service so that it doesn't have to happen to everyone. Most Doulas will have put a lot of consideration into what they charge for their work.
The pros of Doula work are that is it very dynamic, it's a job of service and connection, and, if you like pregnancy and babies, it's a real thrill to work among them all the time. Birth can be exhilarating. It is a rare type who can handle the patience and "holding space" required to support a family through natural childbirth, and another talent to be able to handle the potential rare complication of a medical emergency. The cons of Doula work might be that it is typically an unpredictable, client-centered, and on-call job, and the intimacy of our work requires strong boundaries for client and self-care. One of these boundaries is creating fees or other compensation structures in exchange for service.
When Doulas figure pricing, they often take into account what every working family does - the costs of travel, childcare, and daily expenses while working. Most Doulas are self employed, so they must also account for continuing education, insurance, and taxes - your normal work expenses. Then, each local area has a competitive range of fees (usually $600 - $2000, nationally for a labor and birth Doula), as well, and most Doulas don't want to price themselves out of what a local audience is looking to invest. Finally, while a non-experienced Doula will do a few births for little to no money, a more experienced Doula has realized that they must be realistic and charge a fee so that they can continue doing the work they are so committed to. The gas and time at a birth alone can cost a Doula a couple hundred dollars per birth, that doesn't include meeting the parents before or helping with babies after birth.
Many Doulas seek additional certifications in various modalities of childbirth education, breastfeeding, or lifestyle services so that their service can be more generalized to the needs of growing families. When a Doula has several specialties and is experienced, you can expect them to charge a higher fee, and you should expect that their service reflects a return on that higher investment. This can be like insurance, you invest a little bit extra ahead of time to assure that when you run into a problem you're covered. Common problems avoided with an experienced Doula can include anything from communication issues with labor and delivery staff, your birth partner feeling supported and energized, or a resource for new baby challenges like breastfeeding or preparing to go back to work - there are really SO many more I could list!
As clients you don't want to know the behind the scenes of Doula life. You hire a Doula based on how well they connect with you, their professionalism, and what they can bring to your table that you don't already know yourself.
As frugal moms, we get it! There are many Doulas in the greater St. Louis area who will work for a range of prices, even free. Many Doulas, like me, will work to develop a payment plan that works for families. Sometimes students or people looking for experience will work for rock-bottom pricing, even paying out of pocket when all is said and done for the hard work they put into supporting a client. If you are someone looking for a "budget doula", you can send an email to Doulas of Greater St. Louis, and they may be able to connect you with a rising Doula who is looking for experience, or a hobby doula who offers low-priced services for the sake of community service. If you have a service or product to barter, some Doulas are open to the exchange, but Doulas with real business structures may not always be able to accommodate this legally. Please, call your insurance providers and tell them you want Doulas covered, so they know what consumers are looking for. Sometimes, you can get coverage by asking, or submitting (and resubmitting with a letter), but not often enough. Many families also file their invoice with an Health Savings Plan, if they have that benefit. If you are seeking free or low-cost service, please keep in mind the hard work this Doula does for your family and the potential your Doula has for changing your birth experience for the better.
We at Momentum would like to serve families well, so they return for their next babies! We want people to feel like they got more than every penny worth and beyond, so that they tell the world how worthy of your hard-earned investment we are. We also want to be able to sustain our service to families, like anyone who works, you want to be able to pay your bills and not feel like you are paying to do your own job.
Each of our collaborators has talents, experience, and education that can cover almost any challenge you might face in the trials and triumphs of Beginner Human Life. We are not budget doulas, and we are not new. We are experienced in childbirth and newborn care, physical and mental health, medical and social work... and parenting. We have personal experiences with high-risk pregnancies, natural childbirth, newborns with medical complications, postpartum anxieties, partnership challenges, as well as the humdrum challenges of every family, like changing little diapers, having sore breasts, and finding time to sleep. I am really proud to have gained enough experience and connections with other professionals to be able to provide a premium service with the potential to cover all the bases.
So, here's the nitty gritty of OUR fees! Doula service is made of 4 components, as far as Momentum is concerned. Prenatal Visits, Labor and Birth Attendance, and Postpartum Visits are the first 3. Each of these phases comes with some level of physical/mental/emotional support, as well as resources and education. Lastly, behind the scenes and intertwined throughout the entire process is hours of texting and communicating with you about what is going on with your body and baby, and researching everything from strollers to daycare to major medical complications to make sure you have all the information you need to make quality decisions and keep your head above water. We rarely ever account for those support hours in figuring our fees, but they are ultimately what gets people through with a smile on their face - to know that someone will help you find answers for any private question, or give you a quiet place to reflect on profound changes is a pretty priceless service. It makes me laugh to remember how I have interrupted a date night with my husband to answer a text about hemorrhoids to a client, or made sure to send a link for dog training before curtain's up at one of my kid's plays! #DoulaLife !!! Long after my contracted service to families is over, I am delighted to answer texts asking me about baby's first food or achieving milestones, or just to receive an update or photo on Baby's first steps or words. This is my work.
Because I get to work my passion, I have resolved that there are many hours and interruptions that I could never put a price tag on, and I have more practically created a contract system that puts a flat fee on birth support (I have been at births that were 4 hours and births that were 40 hours - there's no way to predict!), and an hourly fee for educational and support visits. In customizing contracts, this is how I configure final pricing. I have confidence in my service - my passion for families, my investment in education, and my professionalism in advocacy and support - and that of my chosen partners. Ultimately, I will work with almost any family that has a passion for creating their birth experience, or I will work to find them the resources they need within their budgets and limitations. I am in this for the greater good of changing the way we care for families here in the U.S. and I am committed to helping every family who asks for it in some small way at the least.
In summary, we work for and with clients to accommodate budgets, and arrange payment plans, but more so to get you the support that you need. Every situation and every family is different! We have put tons of time and consideration into assuring that we give great service. Momentum offers easy quick-pick packages for convenience, but we are always happy to consider each unique circumstance, so please ask for what you need! It is such a pleasure to do this work.