Hiring a Doula, Part II: The Cost

Welcome back to our 3 part series on Hiring a Doula. Last week we worked through how to find doulas in your area. Next week we’ll tackle how to interview doulas and narrow down your options until you find your best fit. This week, we’re looking at how to pay for a doula.

The Cost

Having a baby is expensive. Nevermind the diapers, clothes, toys, and carseats. Depending on where you birth, with whom and in what manner, the actual act of birthing your baby can set you and/or your insurance company back thousands of dollars. How does the cost of a doula factor in?

Average Cost

Depending on your location, working with a birth doula will typically cost you between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Even brand new doulas typically charge at least $200 for their services. Generally speaking, the more experienced a doula is, the higher her cost. In the Twin Cities, where I live and work, the most expensive doula services are around $2000. In New York City and LA, you can expect to pay at least double that fee for the same level of expertise.

Pro Bono Groups

If cost is an issue for you, consider looking into non-profit organizations that provide sliding scale fees or work completely pro bono. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you might try Everyday Miracles or the Twin Cities Doula Project. These groups function as collaboratives in which doulas rotate their on-call dates. They offer education nights and group prenatal meetings where you can meet multiple doulas at once. You might not know well the doula who shows up to your birth, but chances are you’ll have met her and she’s free.

Volunteer Programs

Let’s say you’ve decided quite late in your third trimester that you want to work with a doula but all of the non profit groups who work pro bono are booked. Check with your hospital or birth center to see if they have a volunteer doula program.

Working With Insurance

If you’re hoping to get the cost of your doula covered by insurance, it’s wise to talk with your insurance company well before your birth. Get it approved early and in writing. Sometimes it can help to have your OB or midwife write a letter explaining how a doula is cost effective for the insurance company. Often, the response you receive will depend on the individual with whom you’re dealing. If you don’t get approved right away, try speaking with someone else. Hopefully, you’ll find someone who understands that paying the $500 for a doula versus the potential $30K for a C-section is preferable.

Get Creative

Why not ask your baby shower guests to consider contributing to your doula fund? Or, instead of letting your great Aunt Linda go crazy on the uber expensive stroller you didn’t even register for, consider asking her to finance your birth team. I wouldn’t go all out by setting up a Go Fund Me page, but it couldn’t hurt to put it out there to your close friends and family as an option. Chances are, they’ll be happy to assist.