What is a Doula?

A doula (pronunciation doo-la) literally means “woman who serves”.  The primary role of a doula is to assist the expectant mother in order to ensure a positive and safe birth.

A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous practical advice, physical support, and emotional support for an expectant mother.  She will serve as an advocate for the mother for both pregnancy and labor related issues as well as day-to-day functions of the mother and family.

What is a Doula and Her Job Description

Doulas who support an expectant mother during her pregnancy, labor, and birth are called birth doulas.  Birth doulas are the most common type of doulas and are the most in demand by pregnant mothers.  A birth doula provides evidence-based information in a non-judgmental manner in order to empower the mother to make her own informed decisions about her labor and birth.  Furthermore, a birth doula demonstrates relaxation techniques such as massage and breathing exercises as methods of providing comfort.  Finally, a birth doula plays in important role in educating the mother on labor positions and medical/non-medical procedures during labor and birth.

Why Doulas are Needed

While nurses and doctors are needed to provide medication and perform surgical procedures during labor, they do not provide support to deal with the challenges of everyday life during pregnancy. People hire doulas in order to doulas in order to assist and provide comfort on a day-to-day basis.

Having a doula during your pregnancy and labor has many benefits for both the mother and infant:

  • more positive outlook and satisfactory birth experience
  • decreased stress and anxiety
  • shorter labor time 
  • less pain experience during labor 
  • decreased use of pain medication and epidurals
  • decreased chance for a Cesarean section
  • more breastfeeding by the newborn

Doula FAQs

Is a doula the same as a midwife?

No, a doula is not the same thing as a midwife.  Although, both are professions who partake in the care of the mother and newborn, they each have responsibilities which are unique to each profession.

Doulas perform day-to-day functions which are not related to the pregnancy or labor itself, such as massages and running small errands.  Midwives do not participate in the daily function of the mother and newborn, but instead focus on the medical needs of the mother during her labor and postpartum periods.

Do I need a degree to be a doula?

No, there is no formal high school, college, or university degrees required to be a doula.  Some doulas obtain further training in certification programs in order to improve their resumes.
Where do doulas work?

Usually, a doula works in the residence of the expectant mother.  It is important for the mother to feel comfortable and safe.  Therefore, familiar faces and surroundings, such as her own family and house, help greatly in reducing stress.

What are the duties and responsibilites of a doula?

Doulas have different responsibilities depending on the individual needs of the mother.  To find out the details of what a doula does, click here.

How long are doulas hired for?

Birth or labor doulas typically begin working to assist the mother during her last few weeks of pregnancy and during her labor and childbirth.  Postpartum doulas take care of both the mother and newborn during the critical few weeks after birth.  Many birth doulas are also postpartum doulas and work with the mother from her pregnancy all the way through her immediate postpartum period.