I remember being so excited receiving my first check as a doula, known back then as a childbirth assistant. It was 1990 and in the previous years of “doing this work” the word doula wasn’t even in my vocabulary. During my training I was willing to pay someone to let me be by their side. Over the years and as I gained more experience my fees increased. To hear some say that doula services run $2,000.00-$3,000 in New York or California blows my mind. That’s along way from my mere $150.00 from my first official paid client in Florida.
For someone who has spent years training and developing people in this profession, the growth is exciting! And as with growth comes growing pains. Part of the pain is deciding what is a fare price in today’s market. Many factors go into setting a service fee; what one will provide, average time spent with a client in order to gauge an hourly wage, experience and skill level, as well as what the market will bare.
I consider myself old-fashion when it comes to some things, and I still believe in tenure. Not that long ago it was considered noble to spend many years with a company. Loyalty was rewarded with financial gain and title. It was expected that you put your hours in and did the time to earn experience and respect, it wasn’t given over night. Today it seems common for young professionals to jockey around from company to company, and there seems to be a lot of “I don’t really want to work hard but I want a pay check” mentality! I am always internally challenged when I see a new doula charging more than I do with 29 yrs under my belt. I hold the belief, whether right or not, that I would rather be busier and serve more women than price myself so high that I only work every now and then.
So what is the correct fee for a doula to charge? Since we still live in the land of the free and where free commerce is alive and well, the answer is; there is no correct answer. It boils down to this, in my opinion, it is what you are willing to pay is what you WILL pay. One thing to consider is that when you are hiring a doula you in essence are hiring her years experience and her ability to articulate that past experience appropriately during her work with you.
I have seen many new trainees that naturally have “it” and instinctively are supportive, they just simply lack the years experience of working in different settings, with different birth situations, and interacting with medical personal among many things. I always say if you can not afford a certified doula, a student with a good training is still supportive.
Here are some primary things to consider and words of wisdom before hiring a doula service:
1. First and foremost do your homework about this person or company.
2. Do they come highly recommended?
3. Always interview whether in person, phone or virtually.
4. Compare the fees of other doula and their experience.
5. Does this doula have a specialty?
Lastly, trust your gut intuition, it never fails you. If you feel comfortable and relieved to have this doula work with you then go for it after all it is your birth, and you know what you are willing to pay~