What is a Doula?

Home What is a Doula? Do You Need a Doula? Dads and Doulas Client Comments Services Fees Local Resources Links Suggested Reading

from The Doula Advantage  by Rachel Gurevich

"A Doula is a professional who provides emotional, physical, informational, and practical support for the expectant, laboring, or postpartum mother.  The word doula, pronounced /doo-la/, comes from the Greek and is loosely translated as “woman servant”.  Usually when people use the word, they refer to a Labor Doula.”

“A labor doula helps a mother cope with labor pains and helps her have a pleasant birth experience, whether the mother wants to give birth normally, with medication, or is planning a c-section.  She helps the mother relax and feel confident, provides massage, and assists with laboring and pushing positions.  The doula also helps the father participate in the birth to the extent he feels comfortable.

from an article found on

What a doula does not do:

A doula does not perform any medical procedures, such as taking blood pressure, or checking dilation, or giving medical advice.  

What is a Doula?

The doula is professionally trained and may even be certified in labor support. However, she does not use medical skills, does not offer
medical advice, and does not deliver the baby, which is what makes her different from a midwife. She may have personal experience with
birthing her own children. She is caring and compassionate, yet emotionally detached from both the mother and her partner. She is
knowledgeable about a variety of laboring and birthing matters and is available to discuss the pros and cons of advice from the medical
staff. She does not make decisions for the mother, nor does she speak to the staff directly about the mother's wishes. Rather, she reminds
the mother of her birth plan and asks her questions that empower her to be her own best advocate.

The doula typically stays with the couple throughout the labor and for the first hour or two after birth. During that time she usually
witnesses more than one shift change of the medical staff. As everyone else comes and goes, the doula remains a constant presence for the
couple. When the intensity of labor increases, the doula is there to suggest new positions or activities to assist the progression of labor
and help the mother feel as comfortable as possible. When mom is feeling scared and feels she can't go on, the doula is right there to
provide reassurance and instill confidence that all is well. She is also there to provide massage, apply counterpressure to mom's back
when needed, get food for the couple, and do whatever else supports the birth process.

For more information:
Perez & Snedecker, Special Women: The Role of the Professional Labor Assistant
Simkin, The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman through Childbirth
Klaus, Klaus, & Kennell: Mothering the Mother
Baldwin: Special Delivery
Harper: Gentle Birth Choices
Korte, Scaer: A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

[Home] [What is a Doula?] [Do You Need a Doula?] [Dads and Doulas] [Client Comments] [Services] [Fees] [Local Resources] [Links] [Suggested Reading]
Send mail to webmaster@wendyrful.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 03/02/08