“We can’t afford it” is probably the most common reason why couples do not hire a doula. In celebration of World Doula Week, I wanted to address this concern and show how a doula can save you money.
Firstly, I understand people are watching those dollars carefully when having a baby. Babies are costly things, from the doctor visits to stocking the nursery to income loss from either quitting after baby is born, unpaid leaves, or having to reduce hours. But what gets me is research shows not having a doula can lead a couple spend money on other possible interventions. Are they considering the fact that having a doula will decrease their chances for needing birth interventions, including c-sections? So just for the fun of it, I thought I’d give a cost comparison of having a vaginal birth with a doula to having a cesarean without a doula:
Average national cost of vaginal birth: $13,000
Average national cost of doula: $650
Total cost: $13,650
Average national cost of cesarean birth: $19,500
Approximate average difference: $5,850
Obviously these are rough numbers, but let’s remember what else you’re getting when you hire a doula: prenatal guidance and coaching, in-birth counseling, and oftentimes postnatal counseling. My doula gave me a plethora of tips and tools on how to prepare for labor beforehand, even recommending switching doctors. She recommended a chiropractor, who continues chiropractic work on my whole family. If I had moments of freak out in the middle of the night that something was wrong with my baby, guess who I called (yes, it happened, bless her heart). Hollie was my rock during labor. She allowed me to focus on labor, even in the midst of things going on around me (fetal heart monitoring, treatment discussions, husband taking bathroom breaks). I of course was consulted on important decisions, but if I didn't need to be bothered, Hollie made sure I wasn't. That alone was worth the cost.
And then, like the icing on the cake, she was the one who best guided me in beginning to breastfeed. When my son wasn't latching properly and wasn't getting the milk he needed, she was the one who urged me to consult a physician when he became lethargic. If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't have known to get his tongue-tie corrected.
I can’t go back and change my choices on hiring a doula, but I would imagine that my experience of having my son would have been wildly different without her. It would have been lonelier, harder to find resources, and would have involved a whole lot more second-guessing myself. So while I wanted to compare numbers to see how much you can actually save by hiring a doula, the truth is, you can’t put a price tag on the service they provide. Even if they cost that extra $5,000 or more, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Here’s to all my doula friends; thanks for all you do!
Cost averages from http://children.costhelper.com/
And thanks to Victoria for writing another lovely blog post.