An experienced and certified labor doula may cost anywhere from $800-$2,300, depending on where you live. The average cost of doula services includes prenatal sessions, on-call time from 37 or 38 weeks until birth, in-person active labor support (you are not charged more for a long labor), and postpartum visits. Postpartum doula fees range from $20 – $45 per hour with minimums (for a single baby) and there are often price differences between day and night work. Most offer packages of hours and some offer discounts based on hours purchased.
When looking at the average cost of doula services, it is important to note that fees vary based on the level of experience and cover all the other costs that go into owning a business. Some of these expenses include: continuing education and training; business cards, handouts and print materials; liability insurance; websites; software used to help keep records and files; labor tools (birth stool, massage tools, essential oils, etc); a lending library; office space; on-call childcare for their own children; payment for restorative practices that help the doula feel prepared physically and emotionally to provide support to their clients; and payment for a back-up doula (a back-up doula shows up to your birth in the off chance your doula is occupied with another laboring family, if they are ill, or unable to provide adequate support due to exhaustion).
Will my insurance cover the cost of doula services?
Not typically…However, some families have success by getting a “prescription” for a doula from their OB/midwives and then going on to pay for services using their HSA or Flex spending account. It doesn’t hurt to ask! The more families that ask, the better the odds!
What if hiring a doula is not within my family’s budget?
Though the numbers above are the average cost of doula services, know that experienced, certified doulas often offer an income or need-based sliding scale or payment plans. Always ask! You also may be able to find a student doula at a reduced rate based on the needs of your family. Depending on where you are birthing, some hospitals offer staff labor doulas at no out-of-pocket cost to you. These may be paid doulas or volunteers, who are only present for labor and birth. Like nurses, they work in shifts, so you may receive support from more than one doula during your labor and birth.
Some doulas offer scholarships or participate in groups that offer special incentives for families who meet certain requirements. An example might be income based, but there may also be a population-based assistance, like refugee families, teens, families giving birth with certain programs or at certain income levels.
A collaborative piece, written for PDX Birth with the doulas of Brave Birth Doula Care.