The Challenge of Doula Fees


Doulas often have a hard time setting their fees.  Many doulas start out by doing their certification births for free or for a very reduced fee.  Once they get experience they raise their rates.  The big dilemma comes when they have to set their fee.  While I don't have all of the answers on how best to set fees,  I firmly believe that doulas need to charge what they are worth.  Below is an infographic that was created to get doulas thinking about this topic.

 Doulas, Charge What You Are Worth


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  • Alice Turner
Comments 9
  • Sara Wright
    Sara Wright

    If you have been through training, you have experience. You are worthy of a fee!! Be confident! Own your knowledge and training and go forth and charge from the begining! I regret not charging out of training. I did a handful of free births and it took a long time to rebuild my name as a NOT free doula.

  • Bron

    I charged for my training births – I was not going to start my doula career giving it away for free. Not long after my certification came through I had some business mentoring from an experienced doula and I ended up doubling my planned fee and so far no one has said I’m too expensive. I book 99% of clients I meet with. In the New Year I plan another increase. I’ve been a doula for just one year.

  • Susan Young
    Susan Young

    I appreciate one of the comments about how doula work’s unwieldy obligations makes it near impossible to commit to other work which would augment income is a factor. All the work I do is related to birth and postpartum (massage, postpartum doula & childbirth educator) and I tell all my clients that there are times when I will need to reschedule if it’s someone’s birthing day/night. Still, there are serious limits on how much birth doula work one person can do and that impacts how much income you can derive from this wonderful, important work. Alice, thanks for your thoughts on the topic! Very pertinent.

  • Kristen Pearson
    Kristen Pearson

    I am a doula working on my certification and am conflicted after reading your post-I am not charging for my precertification births mostly because I want to be able to go to births so I can become certified. I don’t think anyone would hire me without experience, so while I agree with your arguments about underselling the profession I wonder how a inexperienced doula is realistically expected to get the experience without offering free services?

  • Rebekah Baird
    Rebekah Baird

    The pressure to work for free or reduced often comes from other doulas or even in your training. We need to stop devaluing each other, by supporting and respecting the worth we bring simply by the commitment to training and education we have already shown, we will be shifting the mindset towards doula support in the whole community. No other profession asks it’s people to work for free just because they are new…new DR: paid, new RMT: paid, new nurse: still paid!

  • Julia

    Love it! We’ve got a free doula pricing calculator that we created exactly for this reason! We found that you need to work out how much you want to earn per hour and double it to take into account expenses and all the extra non-paid hours you spend working on your business.

  • Tara

    Love this infographic! I particularly love the comparison to others who make bank on weddings! Just like a lot of us will compare how much prep folks put into planning their wedding but won’t take the time out to do a Childbirth Ed class etc!

    As a doula trainer I NEVER advise any doulas to work for free. Matter a fact DTI ( trains and mentors doulas with business skills to be sure that they are charging and feeling great about their worth. Our profession does need to start raising fees to compensate for the time and value behind this important and meaningful service. You can have a calling and still make a living:)
  • Maria

    Things I would add:
    - to the hourly breakdown — the time I spend supporting clients on the phone, while they are in labor, yet have not asked me to join them. That is easily another 12-24 hours entirely client-focused

    - to the challenges list — the inability to hold most other types of jobs to augment your income.

    Doula fees are something that I am quite passionate about. Here in Boston, where the cost of living is quite high,I think I am paid near the top of what the market can bear ($1250 for 2 prenatals, labor and birth support, 1 postpartum). At 3 clients per month, it grosses me enough money to be a contributor to my family expenses, but we could not live on it without my husband’s salary, and I am far from an equal contributor.

    While I am at near the top of the market, I do believe the bottom of the market needs to come up as well. I fundamentally believe that new doulas should not go to births for free just because they are uncertified. I calculated my childcare expenses and doubled it. That was what I charged for all of my certification births. To spend that much time with clients at the center and not be paid simply because you are new – that drags doula fees down. Of course experience is a factor in a fee — but so is training and commitment.

  • Joyce Kimball
    Joyce Kimball

    Great post Maria. It seems like the combination of something so emotional as birth and money is a challenge for most doulas. I know I feel like I want a client to be able to have support, regardless of their ability to pay, yet I know that I can’t offer my services for free or reduced cost (very often) and still buy groceries for my family. I wonder if other providers such as massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc. feel the same way.
    I also agree with you about newer doulas charging what they are worth. Great post!

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