Being a birthworker is a real calling. None of us in this or related professions are in it for the money. We love what we do, it’s a complete honour to walk with the families I work with and see their journeys into parenthood. I truly believe that there should be a doula for every woman and family that wants one. If you genuinely cannot pay my fees, then talk to me. We will work something out.
But I also value what I give to my clients. I’ve recently made the decision to raise my fee for my Birth Doula package. At this moment, I’m a mentored doula with Doula UK, and my fee still reflects that. However, so far I have been paying out far more in my doula journey than I have been paid.
I want you to feel confident that the fee I charge is fair and appropriate, and you receive a high level of expertise and support.
Here are a few things that make up a doula’s fee:
- Experience. In doulaing terms, I’m only a baby, but I’m not a complete newbie anymore and I also bring other experiences to my doulaing, from breastfeeding support, mothering and past careers. Do ask me about my experience as a doula and I will be totally honest with where I am at in my doula journey.
- Ongoing Training: I love learning, love information and love finding out more about how to better support my clients. And maintaining my Continuing Personal/Professional Development is a requirement of Doula UK membership. I regularly attend continuing education trainings to expand my skills and keep my knowledge up to date.
- Being On call: I limit the number of families I serve at any one time, to ensure I have the time and energy necessary to serve them well. When you book me, I mark out 5 weeks in my calendar as “on call”. When I am on call, I do not usually travel more than an hour from my home. Appointments, family & personal events and weekend trips are carefully planned, and I know they may be cancelled with little or no notice. I don’t have a glass of wine with dinner. I don’t wear perfume – just in case my client calls and hates my perfume in labour! As a mum myself, I have to make sure that I have childcare at any point, day or night. Some of this I have to pay for. Being on call is the high price of doula work. My family supports all the work I do, but my time is valuable to me and them.
- Self care: Being a doula is wonderful, but it can also be physically and emotionally draining. If I don’t look after myself, I can’t look after you. After I have been a birth, I expect to need someone to fix my shoulders and back. I will be the support you need in labour and will deal with holding that position or applying that counter-pressure or dancing with you leaning on me for hours, afterwards. Osteopathy is a necessary business expense for me!
- Travel Expenses: Filling up the car, parking the car, it all adds up. I used to add all travel expenses to my fee, but this made it more complicated for everyone.
- Food and Drinks while at meetings and births. Repacking my doula bag for each on-call period requires restocking at the supermarket and putting aside more cash for in-hospital expenses. Birth partners do not get fed in hospitals and birth centres and if we’re at your home, the last thing I want you to be concerned about in labour is whether you have food I can eat!
- Labour Tools: massage oils, TENS unit electrode pads, Rebozo, essential oils, rice packs, washcloths. Some of these will get used up or wrecked at a birth and that’s just the way it is.
- My Lending Library: I have a birth pool, TENS machine, Rebozo, books and CDs that I make available to clients.
- Business Expenses: Tax, insurance, running a car, paper, ink, folders, cards, marketing, website, mobile phone, internet.
- My Time: I will probably average 26-30 hours caring for one family from the antenatal through to the postnatal period. This is from: at least 4, but quite possibly more, antenatal/postnatal visits, plus travel time; a typical time spent at a birth might be 12 hours (but it might be a lot more!); time spent looking things up or sending you info; plus email, text and telephone support from the point at which you hire me to after the postnatal visit(s). Using a reasonable hourly rate of £15/hour (and just think, what do you pay your hairdresser/osteopath/massage therapist an hour?), most of my doula fee is used up before I spend anything on supplies or training.
And if you’re reading this and thinking of booking me for later in the year, get in quick, as I anticipate raising my fee when I become a Doula UK Recognised Doula, so that doulaing becomes a sustainable thing for me, not only something I am hugely passionate about.