I hear on an almost daily basis, "I would love a doula, but I can't afford one." or "How can I get a free doula, I don't have money to pay for one."
In other posts, you see complaints on doulas that flake on a mother that is depending on them. While it infuriates me to see the name of a doula dragged down with such things, I do have to come back with "You get what you pay for."
Often a mother wants all the benefits of someone that will put their life on hold for you, be there whenever you call, stay through 24-48 hour labor if need be, be on call postpartum and through pregnancy with any questions, concerns, or needs you have without paying for it.
For me, a doula, it is like no other service. We are expecting top notch service, but wanting to pay bottom dollar for it. Is it any wonder we are getting poor service when we are paying nothing for it?
We come out "guns blazing" when we get poor service, yet when doulas ask for a reasonable charge, the offense tends to come to the forefront.
How can we fix this?
I would say if you honestly cannot afford the service of someone else, discuss it with them. Instead of expecting the service to be offered for free, offer a service of your own in exchange. It doesn't have to be extreme, but giving something in return tells the doula you appreciate her time and service, yet your finances are not in trouble.
It is totally fine to ask a doula for a discount, a trade, or deeply discounted service. But there comes a time when someone that works for you is worthy of a wage.