Finding a reasonably priced doula
Do you need a doula?
It takes a village to raise a child, and delivering that child into the world takes—at the very least—a good, solid support team. If you’re flying solo, you may need to get a little more proactive about who the members of this team are. You’ll need plenty of support, both emotional and physical, and probably some guidance, too, which is precisely the birth doula’s wheelhouse. You may have heard of these amazing creatures—women who show up when you go into labor, attend to your every need, and stay until that baby’s safely delivered—but you may be wondering about the brass tacks like, well, what doulas do, specifically, and how much they cost. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.
What does a birth doula actually do?
- She’ll be there for all of labor, whether it lasts two hours or 20.
- She’ll help you figure out when it’s time to go to the hospital or birthing center, and if you’re having a home birth, she’ll help prepare the house.
- She’ll offer encouragement, positivity, perspective, and hard-core cheerleading.
- She’ll provide physical comfort, such as massages, ice chips, help with different positions—basically anything you can think of that might offer relief.
- She’ll be your advocate at the hospital or birthing center; she’ll get you the info you need, break it down, and help you make decisions.
- She’ll help get you started with breastfeeding.
What doesn’t a doula do?
She won’t perform any medical tasks—no monitoring the fetal heart rate or taking blood pressure or doing vaginal exams.
Will she help out after the birth?
Some doulas may include one postpartum visit with their services; for more than that, you’ll have to get a postpartum doula.
How much do they cost?
It ranges widely. In big cities such as New York and Los Angeles, a doula runs about $3,500; but, in smaller towns, the average price is closer to $500.
Do any doulas work for free or on a sliding scale?
Yes! A doula-in-training has to log a certain amount of hours attending births to be certified, so she may be willing to assist you for a small fee or for free. Ask your hospital or birthing center about this option, or consult DONA International for a referral. Some hospitals also have no-cost birth-companion programs for women who qualify, so be sure to ask!
Image via Shutterstock.com
Nicole C. Kear, is the author of Now I See You: A Memoir, recently published by St. Martin’s Press. Kear, who lives in New York City, is also an editor, speaker, and mother of three.
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