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Why are doulas so expensive?

A lot of first time parents might be surprised by the cost of a birth doula. Let's break down exactly what you are paying for and why it costs so much.

We put our lives on hold for you. We love what we do and we are so happy to do it, but it is a lot. I have worked on birthdays, Christmas, holidays. You can't drink while on call for a birth and you need to stay close to home. That means no vacations or fun trips if you have a birth coming up.

The hour by hour on call life is a lot. I am on call at 36 weeks. That means my phone is on. I wake up to every phone call and HAVE to get up and go when it's time, regardless of how inconvenient or bad timing. Our doula fee is 1,500. So on call from 36 weeks with the potential of you not going into labor until 42 weeks, means that I get paid 1.48$ per hour for my time JUST being on call.

This doesn't even begin to touch the time I spend doing consultations, marketing, teaching pro bono classes, since as a small business owner, I don't get paid for that.

However, birth doula work usually begins weeks in advance to being on call. We do prenatal visits, phone calls, support and texting.

You are paying for access to the amount of trainings we have taken and the knowledge we can share with you. I am also an advanced NRP practitioner, I've taken spinning babies, advanced doula trainings, different doula certifications.

These trainings are not cheap. I have spent more than a community college bachelor degree on these things to ensure that you have access to the tools in my toolkit. I value learning and knowledge above a lot of things and consider it an investment, but that doesn't mean it's cheap or affordable.

You are also paying us for childcare. Babysitters in Houston are about 20$ an hour. A 24 hour labor definitely makes a financial impact. Then of course, there is gas, mileage, hospital parking. I drive about 100 miles total by the end of the birth since there are in person prenatals, birth support, and postpartum care visits. That's a lot of time and gas!

And of course, there is the physical toll of long nights, keeping fit to do strong hip squeezes. Sometimes doulas have trauma from births they attended. There is a huge amount of emotional labor in advocacy and education.

Hospitals are sometimes hostile and sometimes we witness obstetric violence or hear our client's fears and birth plans dismissed. It's emotional work and a lot of our job is wrapped up in how your experience is. Births are intense. You are paying us to be calm and civil even if we are being directly insulted. You are also paying us to recover after the birth and seek any help or support we might need.

So let's break down the cost of being a doula.

1,500 for birth support.

On call starts at 36 weeks-1.48 an hour if labor begins at 42ish weeks

24 hour labor-the babysitter costs are 480

That leaves you with 1,020

Gas is 25$

Hospital parking is usually around 50

Now you are at 945 for six weeks of work and putting your life on hold. This does not include the costs of marketing.

I could add food and coffee on the job for another 30 in a hospital setting. This leaves you at 915.

If you needed a therapy session to process something traumatic, that's another 250$, leaving you with 695, for six weeks of labor and being available at any point to drop what you are doing and run to the hospital or their home.

So let's say you only count labor hours as being paid hours after costs. 915 is your final cost. That's still only 38$ an hour for the 24 hour labor. And the average labor in a first time mom is 24 hours, but can be up to 72!

If we calculate that final cost over those six weeks of being on call, not including prenatal or postpartum care and visits, that leaves us at 1.10$ an hour.

In conclusion...we love what we do. Doulas tend to be extremely caring individuals. For us, it's not about money, it's a calling and labor of love. We put so much effort-emotionally and physically-into this work and as a female dominated profession, we tend to be underpaid or our work is not valued. This is usually our only job. Like any person who works or owns a small business, we deserve to be compensated fairly. We want to serve the birth and postpartum community and that comes at a cost to us.

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