Nearly 4 million babies are born a year in the U.S. Many of these births – a whopping 40 percent – are born to single women. While married mothers do seek assistance in the birth process, the rise in single moms has caused an increase in the demand for doulas – women who assist other women during childbirth.
A doula may also provide support to the mom and family after the baby is born, but her key role is working with expectant women to help them deliver healthy bouncing baby boys and girls.
A doula salary can provide a decent income, but for many it is a part-time gig or at least starts out that way. Indeed, setting up a successful doula business is going to take time and require experience. How much a doula can actually make, whether she does it part time or as a full-time career, is dependent on a number of factors, including experience, location and number of clients.
Most doulas are self-employed. They work for themselves and not a company. In fact, they are their own bosses and employees. In order to be a successful doula, it’s important to understand that while it is labor of love, it is a business and should be treated as such. So one of the first things that you must do is look at how to set yourself up as a small business. In order to build your reputation as a must-have doula, you will need some business skills.
This basic course will help you get set up to handle finances and other pertinent information to get your doula business on the right track from the get-go.
The most important thing to understand when it comes to being a doula is that you must love it. It’s imperative that this is a labor of love. You are a key factor in the health of two human beings: the mother and that little baby getting ready to come out and face the world.
That said, over time you can earn a good living as a doula. On average, a full-time doula salary is about $45,000 a year. Whether you make that much, less or more depends on where your doula business is, the number of clients that you service and if you are willing to provide extra services and resources. You can also increase your earnings by becoming an expert in certain birth areas, such as breastfeeding, etc.
Considering client base, experience and location – for example, if you live/work in a major city such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles –doulas charge between $300 and $1,500 per birth.
In addition, doulas can offer other services, such as yoga classes, birth education courses, consultations on lactation, belly casting, photo/video services for birth and the newborn, placenta encapsulation and more. These are added services and can provide additional income to a doula salary
While prices range, an average doula in a major metropolitan area will charge about $900 to $1,000 for birthing services that include three prenatal visits, doula service during labor and birth and two post-labor sessions.
Beyond the Basics
The more you know, the better doula you will be and the more income you can make. For example, postpartum services can provide more business, especially for women and families that are experiencing their first child. There will be a million questions from new moms and dads about a number of post-birth issues. Chances are that you have already established a trusting relationship with the parent or parents, so it is a natural fit to take the experience to the next level. Learn from an expert and get certified as a postpartum doula.
Key to your success as a doula and a higher doula salary will be your reputation. Many expectant parents will want references and will actually speak to former clients. Again, the services that you provide will serve to enhance your reputation and grow your business. For example, some clients may ask about yoga. There are two areas you can gain knowledge of yoga in particular that will help you help your clients when it comes to practicing yoga in conjunction with having babies. The first one is being familiar with yoga for pregnant women, which can begin as far back as the 12th week. Today’s woman wants to not only stay healthy during pregnancy, she also wants her figure back after childbirth. This course will help you teach your clients the basics of yoga for pregnancy. You can incorporate it into your base service or make it an extra service. That can depend on how familiar your client is with yoga as well as her willingness to learn.
A more intense course on using yoga for childbirth covers the specifics of breathing during labor, managing any pain associated with the birthing process, choosing and utilizing the best posture and handling the mental anguish.
Remember, the more services you can offer, the more you can increase your doula salary.
The basic doula service is one thing. However, there are other things that you can do to supplement and enhance your doula salary.
- Postpartum – We mentioned postpartum doulas earlier. They charge an hourly rate of between $10 and $35 an hour. Sometimes this requires staying with a family or client overnight, so you could charge a flat fee or higher rate after certain hours
- Childbirth Educators – You can set up your own class and charge around $150-$350 for a full course or break it down into private sessions.
- A Breastfeeding Counselor – A doula that offers this service will typically charge per hour per consultation. Rates would start at about $50 an hour. If it’s a long-term situation, you can set up a package fee.
- A combination of services, such as offering post partum support and childbirth classes, allows you to offer packages for clients that want or need more than one extra service. If your doula business is in a large city where doulas are sought after, you can charge higher rates. But if your services are offered in an rural area where you may not have a large volume of clients, you may need to charge a lower amount or do some bartering until your business is established.
Hopefully, you have become a doula from a desire to help others, support parents and see healthy babies being born to healthy moms. With the right training, experience, knowledge, skills and reputation, you can definitely have a successful career as a doula. However, there are other things to consider when it comes to your doula salary. While you may live in a high-end part of the country and have access to clients with the ability to pay premium rates for your services, there may be instances where you will have to alter your payment plan
If a woman has expressed interest in your doula services who has a lower income or is experience financial challenges, you might consider adjusting your rate or accepting alternative forms of payment. For example, perhaps the expectant mother has bookkeeping skills and can help you with your business records, or perhaps she is social media whiz and can assist in promoting your business on Facebook and even Instagram. You have to be flexible.
The point is that being a doula is an amazing experience in itself and you have to be in it for the right reasons. A doula salary is more than just money – it is the tremendous feeling of satisfaction and joy that you get every time you welcome a newborn into the world.