Relying on the Pros: Why A Certified Doula Is Worth the Cost

Heather Delaney of Maryland State Doulas explains why a professional, certified doula is an investment that you won’t regret

I’d like to tell you a story about my growth from a novice doula to a professional birth worker. 

When I was a new doula on the scene, certifying doulas were loosely regulated, but there was a wide range of training options, and many doulas operated by themselves as sole proprietors. Many of the doulas in practice when I was starting out recommended I offer my services for free to gain experience. I was told this was part of the work, and that I needed to help out families from my heart instead of my pocketbook.

The first three births I attended for free ended up being over 72 hours a piece. I paid a total of $700 to attend them, between child care, parking, meals and gas. I learned a lot about birth. 

I also learned that the type of sacrifice it takes to fully, unconditionally support families cannot happen without an even exchange. 

While I was gone, I greatly enjoyed my work, but my family suffered without me. So did my bank account! I began to get a tight feeling in my chest when thinking of taking on a new client, being on call for them, and continuing to live my life with my family at home.

A Living Wage

I regularly encounter a version of the following phrases when we are speaking with expecting and new parents, often when they’re just now learning about the type of support our specialists can provide:

  • “Can you come down in price at all?”

  • “We weren’t anticipating this cost, and we know we can find a student doula, or a new doula, for free or the cost of gas.”

Yep. Professional, certified doulas are an investment.

In many areas of life, I believe in the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’. One of the most wonderful ways I can sustain my profession (and our wonderful team of professional birth and postpartum doulas) is to command a wage that is both respective of their training and experience, certification, and continued commitment to families. 

Yes. There are doulas out there practicing for free. This has led to some division in our profession. While I have admiration and support for pro bono cases through hospital programs or organizations that can compensate the doula - Operation Special Delivery immediately comes to mind - denying payment for a service that requires professionalism and sacrifice is a privilege. Passion isn’t stripped by adding in a paycheck. It enhances the burn of the fire inside to keep learning, growing, and giving. 

So, what IS the payoff when choosing a professional doula for your team? 

Why Choose a Certified Doula?


Each of our doulas has a strong training and certification foundation. Many also are cross certified with different organizations to enhance their knowledge. They take on additional trainings, stay current on ACOG standards, meet with providers and collaborate with the birth community to fully educate, inform and support each family. Their talent, assurance, and know-how are steady and reassuring, and trust me, this isn’t their first rodeo!

Most importantly, a majority work as a birth professional as their sole job. 

Our fees and intricate doula partner groupings for each family, and back up within our agency means that we've taken care of all of the important details so you'll never hear from your professional doula 'I don't have childcare' or 'I have to work' - or - 'I took too many clients and I can't commit to being there'.  (I'm NOT saying ALL doulas who don't charge a living wage do this - but we have heard so many stories. Believe me, it happens!)

Our Birth Professionals are available to you 24 hours a day - to provide you an unparalleled level of support


Each team member commits to serving and being on call for a family, fully, 24/7. When you invest in your doula, providing them a living wage allows them to commit to your care and also support their family and life away from you. 

You’re also guaranteed that they’ll be there - when push comes to shove, to support you. 

Some real time examples to illustrate:

  • One of our infant care specialists just returned from a long term job with a family. We were the third support team she had hired, and the first with a reputable wage. Since one of the previous care givers hadn’t charged them, she didn’t feel committed to support them when a more attractive schedule item (a vacation) came along. 

  • Last minute, in labor, last month, a family called and asked if we had a team member available to assist their labor. Their doula, who was also providing her services for less than a living wage, had left town, thinking that she’d be back in time for their birth, and hadn’t put things in place to support them in her absence. Since she wasn’t being paid much, she had no trouble eating the fee. 


Our doulas truly love what they do! The burn out rate for birth professionals is three years. We are excited that so many of our professionals have been able to sustain a career and fuel their passion for assisting families, in part because their income allows them to! 

For many of our birth professionals, their income from supporting clients is their family’s sole support system. Taking pride in their work allows them to fully support our families, and to also continue to supplement their work with additional certifications and enrichment for the services they provide.

Our doulas offer judgement free support throughout your entire birth experience


Our doulas and care specialists are able to impartially support all decisions and choices. Through training and experience, they’re able to help without wavering. Many of our families attest that they greatly appreciate not feeling judgment for the decision to change their birth plans and include pain meds or an epidural, or an elective cesarean. Bottle or breastfeeding? You’ll never hear one of our professionals tell you what’s best.

The professional standard of care allows us to give you constant resources and help you make decisions unique to your family.

I get it. There are a lot of investments to make in your season of welcoming a new baby. Saving for the investment of a doula is a wonderful investment in a smoother start to your next big adventure. 

Need some more time or some different options for your investment? We can work closely with you to make a payment plan, provide information for insurance reimbursement, or take payments from an FSA/HSA account. 

Learn today why so many of our testimonials include the words "worth every penny!"

Reach out to our team coordinator today to create your vision of a supported birth and baby experience!