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How much does a doula make?

How much does a doula make?

Being a doula comes with beautiful ups and downs. You help women through labor pains and birthing struggles, which often requires working nights and weekends because babies operate on their own timetable. But you also get to help usher new life into the world and play a key supporting role in one of the most joyful moments of people’s lives.

If you’re thinking about becoming a doula, you’re probably curious how much one can make. It depends on several factors, including your location and level of experience, but certified and seasoned doulas in major cities can command about $100,000 annually. This guide offers some helpful information to help you determine your potential doula salary.

The different ways to make a doula salary

The first thing to know about working as a doula is that you can either do it on a part-time basis or full-time; both choices are common. Being a part-time doula makes sense if you’re a student, a stay-at-home parent, or have another part-time job. Keep in mind that births happen at all days and hours, so you’ll need to have a lot of flexibility in your schedule. You could take anywhere from one birth each month to only a few births per year.

Working as a full-time doula usually means about four births per month, though it can vary depending on your personal preferences. It may be wise to start with one birth a month, and then gradually increase to determine what you can handle.

According to DoulaTraining.net, birth doulas can charge either a flat rate for a birth or charge hourly. Charging a flat fee is most common, and it’s also recommended because the length of the birth can vary significantly. For new moms, labor will usually take 12 to 14 hours.

How much does a doula make by charging hourly?

DoulaTraining.net says it’s less common to charge on an hourly basis, but this can make sense if a client only wants you there for certain parts of the birth, if a birth lasts longer than usual, if the client wants your counsel or advice but not your presence during the birth, or if you’ll be helping the new mom postpartum.

They recommend $45 per hour as a good rule of thumb. They get this calculation by assuming you’d charge $500 for a birth, and then divide that by the average length of a birth (13 hours), which comes out to a rate of $38 per hour. They then recommend increasing it by 10 to 20 percent to account for the fact that you’ll likely also be doing pre-birth consultations or meetings. If you wanted to charge more, according to this formula, you would decide what you would charge for a flat rate, then divide it by 13 and add 10 to 20 percent.

How much does a doula make by charging per birth?

According to DoulaTraining.net, new doulas who charge a flat fee should start off charging at least $500 per birth. You may want to charge more if the birth will require you to drive a long distance or if you plan to help postpartum.

Based on data from The International Doula Institute, birth doulas in large cities with a high cost of living can make a lot more than a doula in a rural area or a city with a lower cost of living. They divide the doula salary by three classifications of cities. Using an average of four births per month, here’s what a birth doula can expect to make:

Cities

Flat Fee Per Birth

Annual Salary

(assuming 4 births per month)

Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco

$1,600 to $2,000

$76,800 to $96,000

San Diego, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Austin, Philadelphia

$900 to $1,400

$43,200 to $67,200

Smaller towns

$600 to $1,200

$28,000 to $57,600

How much do postpartum doulas make?

Postpartum doulas have a different job than birth doulas. Rather than assisting throughout labor and delivery, these doulas focus on helping and supporting the new mother and family right after the birth.

This can include helping with nursing and baby soothing or doing household tasks like meal preparation, laundry, and dishes. Postpartum doulas can also help the partner and any siblings better adjust to life with a newborn. Note that some doulas offer both birth and postpartum services, while others offer only one or the other.

Due to the nature of the work, most postpartum doulas charge by the hour. Here’s what postpartum doulas can expect to make, according to The International Doula Institute:

Cities

Hourly Rate

Annual Salary

(assuming 40 hours per week)

Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco

$35 to $65

$72,800 to $135,200

San Diego, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Austin, Philadelphia

$35 to $45

$72,800 to $93,600

Smaller towns

$25 to $35

$52,000 to $72,800

Making a higher doula salary through certification

If you get certified as a doula, you can charge higher rates because you’ve had more training. DONA International, an organization that provides certification to doulas, says getting certified allows doulas to command a higher payment and receive more referrals.

“DONA International certified doulas commanded a 25 percent higher fee than non-certified doulas and a 7 percent higher fee than doulas certified through other organizations,” the organization says. “DONA International certified doulas also received twice as many monthly referrals.”