What is a doula?

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.

John H. Kennell, MD

The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, “a woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a doula for a laboring woman: tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple.

Doulas support laboring women by:

  • Providing continuous emotional and physical support
  • Helping find resources to make informed birth choices (before labor)
  • Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing
  • Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) as far as allowed in the place of birth
  • Encouraging the mother to communicate with her doctor about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the doctor/mother relationship)
  • Helping the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the laboring mom, feeling useful and helpful. (A doula never replaces the very important role of the birth partner!)

What Does a Doula NOT Do?

Doulas are not medical professionals and do not give medical advice.

A doula will not perform medical tasks like checking blood pressure, doing cervical exams or monitoring the baby’s heart rate.

It is never the place of a doula to judge, condemn or go against a mother’s wishes.

Doulas do not take over or come between the mother and her birth partner or doctor.

Unlike nurses and doctors, doulas also do not take shifts or leave during a labor.

Why a Doula?

A Cochrane review published in 2012 found that in labors with the continuous presence of a doula, laboring mothers experience:

  • Reduced use of pitocin
  • Decreased rate of interventions during labor
  • Less need for pain medication and less requests for epidural
  • Higher satisfaction with birth outcomes
  • Lower c-section rate
  • Higher chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • Shorter labors

I cannot promise you’ll have the birth of your dream, but I will definitely do my best to make your wish come true.