Doula Salary - How Much Do Doula’s Earn?

This is a great question and we get this a lot.  Unfortunately, there is no easy figure.  It depends on a ton of different factors. 

1) How much are you going to work?

Remember, babies come any time of the day or night.  They do not respect weekends.  So you have to ask yourself if you want to take on 3 births in the middle of the night every single week.  For most people, this is really challenging and not sustainable.  

You may also be looking to work as a doula part-time.  This is very common.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or a college student, being a part-time doula is a rewarding way to help women and earn some income on the side.  This may mean averaging only one client per month on a part time basis or only two or three births an entire year.

Full time doulas can definitely can earn much more than a part-time doula.  Based on your availability and client load, top doulas in major cities like New York City or Chicago can make as much as $2,000 per birth. Realistically, a full time doula charging $2,000 per birth can earn more than $100,000 a year.

You have to always factor in other ways doulas can earn from their services.  It may not just be from a birth fee.  Doulas can charge hourly fees for counseling both before and after birth.

2) How much should I charge?

Flat Fee Method

There are two main ways to charge.  The most common way is to charge a flat fee for a birth.  You worked hard to learn how to be a great doula.  You provide a valuable service to women.  Don’t sell yourself short!

The #1 mistake we see new doulas do is to set their price too low

We recommend setting your initial flat fee at $500 USD.  This ensures that clients see your services as valuable.  Birth is an incredibly important time in a woman’s life.  She is looking for a doula that is a professional.  It’s not a time to pinch pennies.  As you gain more experience and clients, you’ll be able to raise your fees significantly higher.  

Experienced doulas can charge $2,000 per birth.  

That is not bad for half a day's work!

We highly recommend the flat fee method for birth doulas.  The reason is simple.  The length of birth can be variable!  For new moms who have never given birth before, labor usually lasts 12 to 14 hours.  Remember, sometimes labor can last much longer.  Rarely, you’ll have to be prepared for 24 hours or more of labor.  

Hour Rate Method

The second method is to charge an hourly rate.  This may help you earn more if a specific birth lasts longer than usual.  We think that the salary method is an option that is good for client’s that may only need your services for certain parts of labor (such as the beginning or end).  Also, the salary method may work better for doulas that are helping with the postpartum (immediately after birth) period.  The salary method may also work with clients who may not want a doula physically present during birth but still want counseling and advice from a trained doula.  

Here’s how we recommend you determine your hourly rate

If you charge $500 per birth, this averages about 13 hours of work--the average length of birth.  This comes out to an hourly rate of $38.  We recommend you increase that by 10-20% because you have to factor in other demands on your time such as pre-birth meetings and consultations.

An hourly rate of $45/hr is a good rule of thumb as a doula

We hope this guide gives you a good sense of how much you should be charging for your services.  Of course, you can always offer discounts for slow periods in your practice.  If there are clients without an ability to pay the full fee, you can always offer a repayment plan.