Birth - an 86 Billion Dollar Industry
"Wow! $700 is a lot of money for a Doula"
I get it. I do! Paying our doulas was a financial sacrifice we were willing to make.
Let's look at the costs surrounding childbirth and child rearing to put that $700 (or even a $1500 - 2000 package) into perspective. Nutrition, Supplements, and Prenatal care increase your costs by about $3000 (some of which is often covered by insurance). The cost of an uncomplicated hospital delivery is around $9,500 and a Cesarean sometimes over $25,000. The out of pocket expense; after insurance, averages $3,400. Childbirth Education, depending upon location and type between $50 - $600. Minimal Required Baby gear - about $450 to get you started, then monthly costs like diapers, wipes, food. Maternity Wardrobe can be free - $5,000 or more, depending upon the individual, her personal and professional needs, and willingness to share.
Raising your child is even more expensive. Almost $305,000 for birth - age 18. That's right, that figure doesn't include college, weddings, etc...
Whew! Pregnancy, Birth, and rearing - the average cost of each child in the US is $312,000!
$700 to have uncompromised, non-judgmental, emotional, physical, and educational support for the prenatal period and birth of your child? Doesn't seem so steep in comparison does it? My Ultimate Care package is $2,000 and includes your childbirth education, labor support, placenta encapsulation, and 16 hours of in home postpartum support to get you off on the right foot as new parents or supporting you in growing your family. In the grand scheme of things the most expensive package I offer is less than 1% of the total cost of "having" a child.
Recently there has been some inside talk about the cost of Doulas vs the cost of medical care providers. This is not an apples to apples comparison. No, I do not have an MD. I do have a liberal arts education, graduate studies, and professional training that requires continuing education. Yes, the cost of a Doula is comparable to the remuneration your doctor receives. However, this is not an apples to apples comparison. Your OB spends an average of 15 minutes with each patient. 30 patients a day, 4 days a week. That is up to 120 patients a week. On call for 24 hours once a week and 48 hours once every couple of months. They are present for less than 2 hours at each birth and usually attend 1-2 births a day. So that's roughly about 70 spontaneous births a year. Add in another 60 planned cesareans and inductions. So about 130 births a year give or take. That includes 2 weeks vacation. For a busy OB who doesn't take a ton of time off you can easily make $480,000 a year to start, $700,000 a year once well established. That isn't take home and I don't deny doctors one cent of well earned pay.
I never take more than 3 EDDs a month. If I have postpartum hours scheduled, even fewer. Any time I need to take off, I have to take off a minimum of a month. Recently I had Hip Surgery and had to take off three months. At minimum, each time we meet, I spend an hour with my clients, usually more like 3 hours. The average time I spend at a birth is 17 hours. For just Labor Support I spend an average of 28 hours with each client (that breaks down to $25 an hour, not including overhead, travel, expenses). Postpartum shifts are 3, 6, 9, or 12 hours. When was the last time your OB came home with you, rubbed your back while you cry, did your laundry, changed your baby's diaper, and made your family dinner. Does your OB help with your baby's latch and refer you to the best IBCLC in town if you have difficulties? In a Fantastic Year, serving as many families as I can responsibly serve, my maximum income is $32,000 dollars. I am almost continuously on call. That means no vacations (I've missed the last two scheduled family vacations for postdates clients) unless they are spontaneous. Very little imbibing and often missing family events. This is not me crying poor or complaining! My career also gives me flexibility and time with my family. It allows me to do work I love, help families, and provides a good supplemental income for my family. But for me to competently serve families I need to make a decent wage. A decent wage so I can ensure my children are also cared for, so I can put gas in my car to get to appointments, so I can maintain certifications, and continuing education.
Don't get me wrong. I love and support OBs. I love and Support CNMs. I love and support CPMs. I cannot do their job. They are well trained professionals, who go to school for many years to do their jobs well. Their responsibility and liability is great.
I am honored to serve as part of the prenatal, birth, and postpartum team. With continuity of care, combined with excellent medical treatment, you and your family will have the absolute best start in your parenting journey.