Friday, 3 May 2013

How Doulas Set Their Fees

Updated 19 February 2016

Birth doulas working in Korea charge between 100,000 and 4 million won (though many have special prices for families not able to pay their fees). Most doulas are around 700,000 to a million won. It might seem like a lot, but doulas do a lot. With that being said there are some free doulas and some doulas are normal charge do pro-bono work or may offer a discount depending on your circumstances. Here's a basic breakdown of what's involved. 

Hours: Most doulas are on-call two weeks before a women's due date. A typical first time mom spends about 18 hours in active labour (active labour is 4 cm). In addition to that a doula often meets with a client before giving birth and afterwards. They may help develop a birth plan as well. There are also emails and phone calls that are answered. Travel time to and from the birthing center and the woman's home is also part of it. There is also prep and research involved. All in all, many doulas spend about 40 hours with each woman.

Knowledge and support: You're also paying for a doula's training, continuing education, knowledge of pregnancy, labor, birthing, breastfeed, and newborn care, their information and support. They can help you with birthing positions and often have other skills such as how to use a rebozo, reiki, massage, reflexology, photography, spinning babies, or aromatherapy. Doulas also offer unbiased assessments of your labour and present you with options.They also help with communication with the medical staff. Doulas are also with you throughout your labour. They greatly help dads, siblings, and family out and are on your side. They give up their family's needs for yours. They also prevent a lot of emotional, physical, and financial costs.

Self-employment and business expenses: Doulas usually only see about half of what they charge. Many doulas are self-employed meaning that they have to cover their own pension, insurance, and taxes. Vacations and sick days are unpaid. If they have children, they have to pay childcare expenses. There are also normal business expenses such as office expenses, advertising (website, pamphlets, etc) phone, internet, transport and (gas, parking, etc). There are also doula-specific business expenses such as meals during labour, birth supplied (essential oils, birth ball, books and resources, massage equipment, hot and cold packs, flameless candles, etc), a stipend to their back-up doula, continuing education costs, and re-certification costs.

Number of clients: Doulas usually only book a couple clients a month (2-6, with 4 being considered full-time) to make sure that they can attend your labour and be well rested when they do. They are usually on-call for 4 weeks for each client, two weeks before their due date and two weeks after.

Time and Personal Sacrifice: Babies usually aren't born on schedule (unless they're scheduled C-sections) which means that doulas may miss important days with their family, such as Christmas and birthdays. Vacations and days off have to be carefully scheduled. Outside work might have to be cancelled. It's physically demanding work as a doula often cannot eat or sleep properly during a labour. They may also use their body to physically support a labouring women and may end up with bodily fluids on their clothes. They also might have to attend a birth in the middle of the night, go home and rest for a couple hours and then go to another birth. Doulas may get burnt out because they are overwhelmed by the commitment and lack of compensation for their time and dedication.

Adapted from 

Tender Embrace Birthing offers childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care classes and support.

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