Ballpark Estimate: $500 to $800
Of course delivering a baby is never easy, but some women find that the discomfort can be more bearable with the help of a doula to offer support and coach them through the more challenging parts.
What’s in the Name
The word “doula” comes from the Greek term for servant or slave. Other names for a doula include childbirth assistant, birth assistant and labor support professional.
Regardless of what you call your doula, its important to understand that this person is not a trained medical professional and will not be able to treat any health problems, nor will she be able to prescribe medications. However, your doula can be a valuable addition to aid the efforts of the medical staff. While the doctors and nurses are focused on the more technical aspects of the labor, the doula can focus on you and your needs, talking you through the breathing exercises, giving you massages and providing encouragement and moral support when you need it. Some doulas also offer extras like aromatherapy, hypnosis and other relaxation techniques.
Finding Your Match
When exploring different doula options, keep in mind that not all will offer the same level of service. Therefore, you’ll need to find out up front exactly what is being provided and see how the doula matches with your needs and expectations. Typically included in the doula services are one or more prenatal and postpartum visits, as well as participation in your labor and delivery. This means that the doula will need to be on call for you starting two weeks before your due date, since it is impossible to predict exactly when your labor will begin. Normally, a doula will stay with you through the entire birthing process, regardless of whether it lasts for a few hours or a few days.
Beyond the actual services that a doula offers, you will need to make sure that her personality will be a good fit for your style and your needs. If you don’t feel comfortable with the doula, you won’t get the full benefit of her expertise.
How to Find a Doula
To find a doula in your area, there are a number of resources that can help you in your search. First, you can ask your obstetrician for referrals to people who might be suitable for the position. You can also ask family and friends to connect you with doulas they have used themselves. Or, you can do a search online for national organizations and networks that you can use to contact local doulas. Some to try include Doulas of North America, The Doula Network, and Doula World.
What to Look For
When considering a doula, it is important to ask whether she is certified by any professional childbirth organizations and what type of training she has received. Some of the common organizations that train doulas include Doulas of North America, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators, and International Childbirth Education Association .
You should also find out how many births the doula has attended, and what delivery methods were used. It’s always a good idea to ask for references from other families who have used her services.
Some women also prefer to use a doula who has worked with her obstetrician in the past, or at least is familiar with the particular maternity ward where she will be giving birth, since this can help ensure things go smoothly.
Always be sure that you find out what to do in the event you go into labor well before your expected date. If it turns out that your doula isn’t available when you needed her, you’ll need to have an emergency fallback plan in place.
Cost for a Doula
When exploring doula costs, the price can depend on several key factors. First, the level of experience and training she brings to the job can help dictate her fee. What services the doula is offering will also impact the price. In addition, the part of the country in which you live, and the cost of living there, can also affect what you can expect to pay. For instance, doulas in places like New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco can command a higher price than similar people in other parts of the country.
On the low end of the spectrum, you can find a doula who will work with you for a cost of about $300. On the high end, it might cost as much as $1,500 for a doula who comes with lots of experience.
A doula can cost anywhere from $300 to $1500, depending on the experience the person brings to the job, what she includes for the price and where you live. Most people spend somewhere in the low to middle of the range, with a price averaging between $500 and $800.
Postpartum Doula Costs
If you don’t need a doula to help you through labor but you do want some extra help adjusting to motherhood, some doulas will be willing to work with you after the baby is born to help with postpartum issues, such as overcoming challenges with nursing. This will usually be charged at an hourly rate. The cost of a doula per hour typically ranges from $10 to $35 or more.
A Cost-Saving Option
If you have your heart set on the assistance of a doula but you don’t think you can swing the cost, you may not have to give up on the idea. It’s worth contacting some doulas in your area and asking them if they offer any sliding scale options. Some will be willing to adjust their rate based on what you can afford. Other doulas could be willing to barter with you in exchange for their services, making this luxury accessible for many expectant families. In addition, you could consider using a doula in training, who may be willing to work with you for free in exchange for the experience. You can also ask if your labor ward has any type of hospital doula program. If so, this could be a good option to explore and often the doulas are available to work with you free-of-charge.
You can check with your insurance company to find out if they have any benefits to help cover the cost of a doula. If yours doesn’t, you may be able to deduct the expense out of your medical savings account or flexible spending account.