The Discount Doula Trap: How It Could End Up Costing You More Than You Think

Times are tough for many these days. Do a google search for ways to cut monthly spending, and there is a whole list of suggestions from cutting back on your daily coffee to refinancing your home. Many times, choosing the generic brand or lower priced item, will in fact save you money without lowering the quality of the product. Doula care is NOT one of these items.

There are essentially two types of doulas: Professional doulas and hobby doulas. For the professional doula this is her primary job. She supports her family through her business and her professional reputation means everything to her. A hobby doula is usually a woman with a passion for birth and enjoys helping others for fun in her spare time. Both of these doulas can be caring, supportive and wonderful, but only the professional doula can be held accountable to her certifying organization if she crosses a line. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Not sure how to tell if your doula is a professional doula or a hobby doula? One of the easiest ways to tell is price. Below I highlight exactly what you are paying for when you hire a professional doula.


A professional doula is always certified with at least one organization, and many are certified with multiple organizations. Certification requires a doula training class, CPR classes, books, training materials, childbirth education classes, breastfeeding classes, and yearly dues to the organization she certifies through. Hobby doulas may have taken the training and not followed through with getting certified or even worse, not take the training at all.

Continuing Education:

It takes a professional doula many years and thousands of dollars to hone her skills and it’s a job that is never done. A professional doula needs to keep up to date with the newest studies and procedures. She needs to take continuing education classes to be eligible to re-certify every 1-3 years. Because many hobby doulas are charging so little for births, they cannot afford to continue their education and may not be up to date with current recommendations.


Being reliable is at the top of a professional doulas code of ethics. If your professional doula is in a solo practice, she is passing up on a chance to have a glass of wine with her girlfriends because you are due next week. A professional doula will leave her child’s birthday party because your water broke. Her life is on hold for the 4 weeks surrounding your due date and she needs to be compensated for it. Hobby doulas can be unreliable. Would you spend 20 hours with a woman in labor and miss Christmas with your children for only $200?

Jennie had this to say about her low cost doula…..

“I called my doula to come at 5:30 am……….. My Doula showed up around 8 pm (3 hours after my c section) and she never came back to see me. The only reason we know she showed up is when my husband saw her in the waiting room when our parents arrived and he went out to get them to bring them back to my room. She never followed him back, never asked if we wanted her back, asked if I needed support or help at all… nothing! I am guessing she left since she wasn’t out there when he walked our parents out to the waiting room to leave.” -Jennie


Professional doulas follow a strict scope of practice. A professional doula will not diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any ailments. We can give you the resources to make good choices, but we will NEVER tell you what you should do or what we would do in your situation. Hobby doulas can have hidden agendas. Perhaps they had a drug free birth and think that everyone else should as well.  Perhaps they are looking for recompense for their bad birth experience. This can pave the way for bad feelings about your birth if you feel you did not “measure up” to your doula’s standards. 

 ” I felt like I failed my doula. She talked so much about her homebirth, how could I have ever measured up” – Anonymous

Did you hire a professional doula? Did you fall for the discount doula trap? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

The Koru is a symbol of new beginningsLancaster Doulas LLC

Proudly offers Professional Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Services

Serving Central PA – Lancaster, York, Reading Harrisburg, Lebanon and Hershey

2 thoughts on “The Discount Doula Trap: How It Could End Up Costing You More Than You Think

  1. Great point about reliability. And the training is definitely important as well. MaternityWise offers a comprehensive long-distance training program that can be a great option especially for women who already have some birth experience. All doulas should keep up with their certification and re-certification process for sure. Ask to see their certification if you want before hiring!

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