Would you pay $1000 for a doula? — The Bump
Natural Birth

Would you pay $1000 for a doula?

I've been researching doulas in NYC, and it seems like the average fee here runs about $1000. I'm planning to give birth with an OB (but one who is VERY pro-natural birth) in my hospital's "birthing center" (which is more conservative than a standalone BC but still very supportive of natural deliveries.) So. Would you spend $1000 on a doula? We can afford it, I guess, but it's still a large chunk of change for us. Along those same lines, would it be worth paying $250-500 for someone with less than 25 births under her belt?
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Re: Would you pay $1000 for a doula?

  • If the money isn't a problem, then I would. I wish I had spent more on my doula last time, she wasn't much help. I know it's not just because she had a low fee, but because it was low I didn't interview anyone else. And if you want to talk to some less experienced doulas also and you find someone who really gets what you want and you click with them, I'd say that that is at least as important.
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  • i personally would not spend that much money for a doula, but if it is important to you and will help you to get the birth that you want it would be worth it. 
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  • Thanks for your replies. I guess the question is: will it help me get the birth I want? Is there a benefit if I already have a lot of natural birth support? Will I find it money well spent or a luxury?
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  • Yep. I live in Chicago and when I looked at a few companies that had doulas they were $1250-$1500. I ended up going with someone who was independent for $750, but I was prepared for the $1500. This is my first so I knew the support would be invaluable to me considering my husband and I are clueless. I actually think $750 is pretty cheap for all she does (unlimited support via phone and e-mail for the entire pregnancy, 2 in-person meetings before the birth, the birth itself, and a few postpartum visits).
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  • imageNechie122:
    Thanks for your replies. I guess the question is: will it help me get the birth I want? Is there a benefit if I already have a lot of natural birth support? Will I find it money well spent or a luxury?

    only you know the answers to those questions.  :)

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    MsMacual
  • Pay the $250 for someone with less births.  I paid $300 for my doula the last time - she was in training and had only attended 3 births before.  She was amazing and I hired her again.

    I would never pay $1000 for a doula, but I live in a low cost-of-living area. 

  • Honestly, I wouldn't.  We spent a couple hundred dollars on the Bradley classes, which helped train DH to be my birth coach. I don't feel like a doula would've been necessary.  Plus, I felt like I really wanted an intimate setting- the less people the better.  I felt like birth was between DH & I (I'm not the type who would want a video camera or my mom, dad & 4th cousin in there) and of couse the nurse & dr. 
  • I would not pay $1,000 for a doula, but then again, I wouldn't pay for a doula at all.  I think it just depends on the type of person you are, how you labor, and what kind of support you have.  I did a lot of research on natural pain management and my DH and I took a hypnobirthing class.  When the day came I told him what I needed and he did it.  I am one of those women that likes to zone out and doesn't really want to be talked to or touched.  My DH spent the last five hours of my labor, silently pouring water over my stomach while I was having contractions.  In my case a doula would have been a waste because I didn't really need much.  That's just my two cents, for some women $1,000 would be well worth it, it just depends on the person. 

  • image~adamwife~:

    I would never pay $1000 for a doula, but I live in a low cost-of-living area. 

    Nechie, I remember you on TTGP :)

    Ditto this.  We're not hiring one, but 1K is really high for a doula around here.  But we don't live in NYC either.

    Why not try and interview both, and also think about what do you actually want you doula to do for you?  Just help out with some laboring/delivery postions, pitch in when DH gets tired and butt out of any and all medical decisions, or someone to be your medical advocate to keep you and practitioners "on task" so to speak.  This might gauge whether you need the "in the trenches" experience, or just a helpful, supporting hand.

    Just some food for thought that might help with decision making

    MsMacual
  • I did. That's the going rate for doulas in my area.
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  • Yes. We are looking for a doula (hard with a holiday EDD that is coming fast). Here, $1k seems to get you a doula with a few years+ of experience. Over $1k is the ones with hundreds of births under their belts. Under $1k is the rate for newer folks (starting at $400). For us, the fit is more important that the price. Since I am VERY thrifty, I pretty much never say those words, LOL! Unfortunately, all of the experienced doulas are either already booked or are taking the holidays off.
  • Thanks again, everyone. You've given us a lot to think about.
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  • No matter how supportive of a natural birth your OB is, the OB will not be with you the entire time that you labor. Just a thought.
    MsMacual
  • I had a midwife for my last birth, but she wasn't there the whole time and there were several key points where a doula would have come in handy.  So for ME, it is worth it and I am paying $1100 for our doula, switching midwife practices and driving about an hour for my attempted VBAC (the c/s probably changed my view on what was "necessary"). 

    My new midwife group actually encourages having a doula present.

    That being said, we interviewed different doulas at different price points and levels of experience.  I immediately felt comfortable and empowered by the doula we hired.  I'm sure there are plenty of doulas that are cheaper or less experienced that would be awesome, but you need to figure out who you click with and what feels right to you.  Good luck! 

    DS born via c/s 11/08 and med-free GD VBAC DD 3/11! Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Man, after reading this I'm wondering how I can become a doula.
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  • imageSillyJilly0:
    Man, after reading this I'm wondering how I can become a doula.
    LOL!  If you want an idea, our $1100 doula had attended over 350 births and is almost done with her midwife training.  The one that was $500 just became a doula last year and has only attended about 7 births.  In our area they don't really go lower than $500.  It's still a lot of work and hours for just one birth, including prenatal and postnatal visits and being on-call at all hours and possibly needing a babysitter for your own kids.  Can you tell I've thought about this too when I saw how much they charged?  Big Smile
    DS born via c/s 11/08 and med-free GD VBAC DD 3/11! Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    epodhajser07
  • My doula was also our Bradley instructor. We were actually her first birth and she charged us $200.00. She was amazing and I couldn't imagine having gone with anyone else. Because of the 12 weeks of classes we also  knew her really well and knew that she was knowledgeable. I would say interview several people and see who you click with the best. GL!
    Ivy: July 2010  |  Stella: Dec 2012  |  BFP#3: MMC at 11Wk's, July 2017 | Wyatt: April 2019 | BFP#5: Twin Girls due Sept 2020

  • imagechicsub:
    imageSillyJilly0:
    Man, after reading this I'm wondering how I can become a doula.
    LOL!  If you want an idea, our $1100 doula had attended over 350 births and is almost done with her midwife training.  The one that was $500 just became a doula last year and has only attended about 7 births.  In our area they don't really go lower than $500.  It's still a lot of work and hours for just one birth, including prenatal and postnatal visits and being on-call at all hours and possibly needing a babysitter for your own kids.  Can you tell I've thought about this too when I saw how much they charged?  Big Smile

    Ha!  I guess I couldn't do the on call at all hours thing right now (and I have to keep in mind that not everyone has a 6 hour labor like I did- I can't imagine being with a laboring woman for 20+ hours...).  Perhaps when the kids are grown...

  • We were living in San Francisco when DD was born, and paid $900 for our doula. Worth.every.penny. DH was fantastic, too, but I had a LONG labor (induced with Cervidil overnight followed by Pitocin) and the poor man would have collapsed from exhaustion if he had had to get me through it alone. It was worth $900 just for him to be awake enough to enjoy the birth of his daughter, nevermind everything she did for me!

    DS was born here in Dallas, and I never would have paid $1000 for a doula. Even the most experienced doulas only charged around $750. Ours cost $400 and we LOVED her. When hiring a doula, I think that fit/comfort level is MUCH more important than her experience level.

    Mommy to DD1 (June 2007), DS (January 2010), DD2 (July 2012), and The Next One (EDD 3/31/2015)

  • i paid $700 for mine = she has almost 100 births under her belt.  i can imagine her going rate in NYC or similar higher COL area would be about $1k
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  • In this area, I would not since the price for a doula averages $500 here.  I think for my first experience I'd pay the going rate though, if I could afford it. Our doula has been very helpful so far and DH is excited that he doesn't have all of the support pressure on him. I know he would do whatever I needed, but he's nervous too and having a professional makes us both feel a bit more secure.
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  • in the high COL area i live in central NJ, we're paying $800 for our doula.
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  • imagesweettalkin417:
    My doula was also our Bradley instructor. We were actually her first birth and she charged us $200.00. She was amazing and I couldn't imagine having gone with anyone else. Because of the 12 weeks of classes we also  knew her really well and knew that she was knowledgeable. I would say interview several people and see who you click with the best. GL!

     I agree with this.  I have been teaching TBM for 2+ years and have been a doula 3 times for my students.  I charged them $250.  If you do go with someone with less experience like this, it is important that they are still knowledgeable.  Often times, a newbie like myself is even more passionate & eager to assist than someone who's done it hundreds of times before.

  • I was expecting to pay $1k (I live east of SF) but the doulas in this area are reacting to the recession and our doula, who has attended over 300 births is charging us $750. We also paid $350 for our bradley class.

    I would talk to your husband, my husband wants the doula present, and would have paid more to have her there b/c he thinks its important for him, he wants the extra support.

    **** TW - kids and loss mentioned ****
    ~~ married 8.11.07
    ~~ DD1 1.16.11 ~~ DD2 1.3.14 ~~
    ~~ BFP3 12.22.15 MMC 2.29.16 @ 13 weeks ~~
    ~~ 2 D&Cs (3.1.16 and 3.10.16) for MMC
    ~~ BFP4 10.27.16  MMC 1.23.17 @ 16 weeks ~~ D&E 1.26.17 ~~
  • We are.  Our doula is also a trained monitrice, and since I'm a VBAC and wanting to labor at home as long as possible (hospital is 30 mins away), DH and I both felt it was worth the extra $$ for the additional monitoring (b/p checks, heart rate, cervical checks if desired, etc).  We both wish we had hired a doula the first time with DD.

    ~Sweet Girl *8/18/08* c-section ~ Sweet Boy *12/2/10* VBAC ~ Sweet Boy *8/14/12* VBAC~ 

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  • I wouldn't pay that much where I live, but if $1000 is the going rate in NYC, then yeah, I probably would.

    Ours is $600, and I still think that's expensive for where I am (ND). Unfortunately, our doula is now the only one practicing in our area, because the other two have taken extended time off to raise their young children. Since she has the monopoly on the market, I guess she can charge whatever she wants. Stick out tongue 

    Anyway, I will say that our doula is pretty amazing. She teaches my prenatal yoga class, and has the calmest presence about her. I know that will be invaluable during labor. She also takes pictures on her professional-quality camera during labor & delivery if the mom wants (and I do).

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  • I did and would again.  Especially if I was planning a hospital birth.
  • Talk to other mothers that have delivered at that hospital. I paid $650 for my doula. Did I want to pay that much, of course not, but she will help us achieve the birth that we want.
  • Will your ins cover it at all?  Supposedly, mine has the reputation of covering some of the doula fee (although if you call and ask without the code, they say no - I'm prepared either way). 

    I'd probably pay for someone with fewer births who you click with - our area up here is so small that the more experienced doulas only have about 60 births under their belt - those with more usually end up going into midwifery. 

    The entire make a difference thing depends so much on your personality and the situation you're in (back labor?  baby malpositioning during labor, etc).  A doula for us would have been invaluable at the last birth - it may not have prevented my c/s, but I think a good doula would have made sure that things got discussed a lot more before it happened which would have made the experience better.  

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    MsMacual
  • I would.... but I would use my flex plan account to pay for it. A licensed Doula is FSA approved!
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  • I am (in the SF area) although I loath to spend so much money...She seemed to have a middle-range rate, has been to many births, just finished her midwifery training, and has worked with my midwife before (in addition to having had one of her kids with my midwife...).

    I think in NYC you are not really going to get a better price for someone with experience. On the other hand, if you feel very confident in you husband you may not want the cost.

    Your OB will not be there the whole time and you husband will definitely need someone to take the pressure off once in a while I would say. Not to mention you have no idea how long you will be in labor!  

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    carafern
  • imageNechie122:
    I've been researching doulas in NYC, and it seems like the average fee here runs about $1000. I'm planning to give birth with an OB (but one who is VERY pro-natural birth) in my hospital's "birthing center" (which is more conservative than a standalone BC but still very supportive of natural deliveries.) So. Would you spend $1000 on a doula? We can afford it, I guess, but it's still a large chunk of change for us. Along those same lines, would it be worth paying $250-500 for someone with less than 25 births under her belt?

    Hey, I'm in NYC and hoping to do the same thing (give birth at the St. Luke's birthing center with my OB). I have not considered a doula because my OB is so awesome and supportive, so I don't think it's necessary. In about a month or so, I can give you better insight and let you know how it went...

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  • Another NYC mom-to-be here. :)

    I'm expecting to pay at least $1000 for a doula. My OB has a few that she's worked with and recommends especially for patients who want to go natural--they're all very experienced and $1000 to $1800 for a birth. I definitely want someone who works well with my doctor and the hospital staff, so I'm leaning toward using one of them.

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  • We paid 700 because she is such a great source of support throughout the whole experience. We forfeited classes and just purchased the Birthing from within book to read on our own. 

    I think she is worth every dime especially because she is available by phone and email 24/7 and she has already helped me tremendously. I am even considering tipping her.  

     If cost is an issue, some insurances will reimburse for your doula.  

    Doula, mama and student prego with number 2. Yay! www.endeavorsin.com
  • Can you give me the name of doulas you recommend in Dallas? :)
  • Erm... no. Research your options. If they are that expensive up there, look into hiring a doula in training (just make sure she isn't BRAND spankin' new). Or find a volunteer doula. They exist. Promise.
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  • I live in high cost of living area, and $1000 is about the going rate for a doula with a moderate amount of experience. The "good" ones are around $1300-1400. DH and I just couldn't get mentally get over the $1400 price tag. We ended up going with a newer doula who was also doing her midwife training, so she had a lot of births under her belt. She was $650 and it was money well spent. It looks like she's charging $850 now :)
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  • I think it entirely depends on what type of support you feel you need and want.  An experienced doula in my area is between $750-1000 and includes quite a lot all things considered.  So no- 1k for a doula isn't crazy if that is the typical rate in your area. In our case, we didn't feel that it was something we wanted for our first son's birth and I don't look back thinking that I wished I had one because I was pretty prepared and educated about birth beforehand.  I'm still thinking about getting one for our second (and probably need to decide soon b/c he's due soon!) and this time around it is less about needing or wanting support and more about the fact that we have an almost 3 year old who also will need to be cared for and the doula could give us a much needed extra set of hands (our thinking is that she'll be with me and then DH could come over to the hospital when I'm close and she could help watch our son if it is not during a time that our dcp has him).   My MW group said that they are indifferent to them, but reminded me that the L&D nurses along with the MW are very supportive of drug free/low intervention births (the hospital we are delivering at is knowing to be supportive and offers water births and other non drug options).
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  • Yes, I absolutely would. 

    But we live in Alabama and $500-$700 is typical, while our cost of living is significantly less than yours. So $1000 doesn't seem high at all to me. If there is one thing I am willing to spend money on it is the birth of my child. If your jobs offer an FSA, you could also use that to pay her. It would save you tax on that amount, so about 20%ish. 

    I don't think it matters how NB friendly your hospital is, you will probably really like having that extra support. She can coach your husband on massage techniques and talk to you about what is going on in your body. The doctor will not see you much until pushing time, and nurses are pretty hit or miss. 
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