Birth Doula Too Expensive? Here’s what you’re really paying for…

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Now what? This can be both an exciting and nerve-racking time. There are so many things to do, things to learn, to prepare for. It can seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are birth professionals out there who are willing and eager to help!

A Birth doula is someone trained to support you physically and emotionally through pregnancy, labor, and the early postpartum period. Doulas can be a valuable addition your birth team and help you achieve the birth you want. They meet with you and your partner (if applicable) during pregnancy to provide education and information about anything you need. They can help you write a birth plan and teach you comfort measures for pain relief. During labor they are by your side for anything you need. When you think you can’t do it anymore, a doula is there to find ways to help you through the tough physical and emotional spots with knowledge and compassion. They can help you breastfeed and start your postpartum life in the right direction.

Depending on where you live, you might get a little “sticker shock” when you look at the cost of hiring a birth worker. Many doulas will barter for services, use a sliding scale for lower-income families, or offer discounts to those in difficult circumstances. Hopefully knowing and respecting what a doula really does can help you understand the service you are paying for.

Here are just a few things that your fees go toward.

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The Skills

Education is not cheap, and this also applies to birth training. Your doula has likely spent hundreds of dollars just for initial training, but few doulas stop there. The world of birth work is always changing and conferences, courses, literature, and experience cost money for your doula. If you value a well rounded, educated doula who is versed in many different aspects of birth it’s going to cost you more, because it has cost her more to get there.

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The Brain

Birth workers spend a lot of time reading, listening, learning, and researching all things birth. The great thing about having a doula is you essentially have a walking encyclopedia right there with you! Have a question about an intervention? Ask your doula. Having a weird symptom? Ask your doula. Just need someone to listen to your irrational emotional outburst? Yup… your doula is there. Don’t waste all your time googling and weeding through information to find the most accurate advice on Kelly Mom, use your doula to help you do that. She likely knows many reputable resources and can help you find what you need if she doesn’t already know.

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The Time

If you sit down and think about it, the amount of time a doula invests in a single client is significant. Gathering material, preparing for prenatal appointments, answering questions via text, email, phone, postpartum support, finding resources, continuing her education, maintaining a website, social media, and running a small business are just a few things ASIDE from the many hours of actual face-to-face time they spend with you. This is all time spent working and away from family, friends, and other obligations. Being on call, canceling plans, finding childcare, and middle of the night calls to action are just a few things doulas have to ALWAYS be prepared for. They are ready for your 3 or 30-hour labor, and the planning, time, rearranging, etc all deserve to be compensated for.

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The Relationship

Enjoy the opportunity to talk through your fears, concerns, goals, dreams, and desires with someone who has a genuine interest in knowing them. While it may not be appropriate dinner conversation elsewhere, your doula really does want to know that you’re concerned about pooping on the bed (or whatever else is on your mind, no matter how gross it is!). Take advantage of the unique relationship you can develop with your doula and enjoy someone focusing so intently on you.

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The Costs of Doing Business

Running a small business is not easy or cheap. Taxes (which are quite hefty for self-employment), website fees, liability insurance, gas, childcare, materials, business cards, uniforms, food/snacks for labor, maintaining certifications, and the list goes on! All these little costs add up quickly.

**On a side note, if you want to see what I carry in my birth doula bag or want some ideas on packing your own hospital bag, check out this post!

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The Advocate

Your doula works for you, not your provider or the hospital. An ideal team all works together to create the best experience for you, but in the event that you and your provider/nurse/hospital policy don’t see eye to eye, your doula is there for YOU. They can help YOU help YOURSELF by providing you with support, courage to ask for what you want, and strength to stand up for something that’s important to you. A doula never speaks for you, but it can make a big difference having someone there to remind you of things you’d previously wanted or discussed.

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The Peace of Mind

Having a doula present can take a lot of the stress off you and your partner. There’s no pressure to read all the books out there on pregnancy, labor, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc because your doula is well versed on these topics. **If you do want a list of book recommendations, check out this post here!** Obtain information that is interesting to you, and then rely on the doulas knowledge and available resources.

There’s no need to worry about the little things, because your doula is filling in the little holes for you. Things like keeping your water bottle filled and reminding you to drink, allowing your partner to take a break for lunch or a power nap, or adjusting the lights and temperature before you even have to ask are wonderful little additions you might not even notice but will appreciate. Having seen birth many times before, they provide you the peace of mind that you’re in good, calm, and knowledgable hands.

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The Witness

One of my favorite parts of birth is when I simply get to be the witness. If the birthing woman (alone or with her partner) has things under control, I just get to sit and hold the space. A keeper of the peace and a witness to the miracle that is taking place. Having someone who appreciates the value, struggle, and accomplishment that comes with bringing new life into the world can make you feel validated, powerful, and strong. I see you. I’m here if you need, but you’ve got this.

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So when you look at a doulas prices, is the time, knowledge, and experience worth what they’re asking to be compensated for? You can shop around for the cheapest option, or pay for the service that best meets your needs with the experience and value you’re looking for. Sometimes it seems easier to pay for tangible items like professional pictures, awesome gear, or a new outfit, but it’s no different paying for a service that can help you feel positive, empowered, and prepared for one of the most special times of your life. Find the support that’s right for you, and be mindful of the doula who knows her worth and asks for it.

To read more about what a doula does, visit New Little Life – What is a Birth Doula?

You might also like:How to have a Perfect Birth – Advise from a Doula

Hypnobirth 101 – Why would someone choose self-hypnosis for childbirth?

Birth is never boring for a doula – “Plan change, I ended up with an epidural!”

Here’s an old video, but still rings true today. This my FAVORITE part of being a doula, and it may not be what you expect…

~ All things for you and your new little life ~

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