What is a Doula?

Doula is a Greek word meaning “Woman who serves”

A Labor & Birth doula has specific training in techniques to ease pain, facilitate labor and provide emotional support as needed. 

Birth Doulas provide care through late pregnancy, labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period.

"I had TOO much support in Labor"
- Said no woman ever

What does a Doula do? 

  • Visits you twice before birth to discuss your birth preferences and create a birth plan

  • is on-call for you 24/7 through late pregnancy (typically 38 weeks in pregnancy) until birth for questions or concerns

  • Joins the family as requested during labor and remains with you for the entire labor: at home/ hospital/ birth center, and the first hours after birth

  • Provides informational, practical and emotional support

  • Provides hands-on comfort measures & techniques (massage, positioning, hydrotherapy, etc.) (see below for full list)

  • Helps the client to advocate for their own wishes. Advocacy is defined as supporting the birthing person in their right to make decisions about their own body and baby

  • Helps to bridge the gap between hospital and mother

  • Provides breastfeeding information and support in the immediate postpartum period

  • Completes at least one in-home postpartum visit to assist in processing your birth story and evaluate any needs the family may have postpartum

  • She supports you in the birth you want

  • Helps you cope with labor and any unexpected or undesired events should they occur

Benefits of Having a Birth Doula

  • Shorter labors.

  • Fewer complications/ interventions:

      – Cesarean rates reduced.

      – Less use of episiotomies.

      – Less need for medications to speed labor.

      – Less need for forceps/vacuum extractor.

      – Fewer requests for pain medications.

  •  Increased confidence in self and in partner/ coach.

  •  Higher success rate in breastfeeding.

  • Increased satisfaction with birth experience.

  • Mother views baby more positively.

  • Continuity in care: prenatal, labor, birth and immediate postpartum. (no shift changes!)

  • Lowers anxiety /stress levels for mother and partner

  • Less likely to have postpartum depression.

  • Higher APGAR scores for baby

  • Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.

  • Very useful asset for attempting a trial labor for VBAC or if facing a difficult pregnancy

How can a Doula help in Labor?

  • Massage/ Counterpressure/ Acupressure

  • Positioning

  • Breathing techniques

  • Keep mama nourished and hydrated

  • Epidural support: positioning with restrictions

  • Relaxation techniques- focal points, imagery, sensory therapy, and more

  • Music/ Lighting: keep a healthy birthing environment

  • Hot / Cold therapies

  • Birth balls/ peanut balls

  • Rebozos

  • Offer and assist in Spinning Babies Techniques

  • Shower / Bath / Hydrotherapies

  • Knowledge of options

  • Can offer the partner to opportunity to care for their own needs in a long birth

  • Emotional support and encouragement

  • And more...

What does a Doula NOT do

Doulas are not medical professionals, and the following tasks are not performed by doulas:

  • They do not perform clinical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart monitoring

  • They do not give medical advice or diagnose conditions

  • They do not make decisions for the client (medical or otherwise)

  • They do not pressure the birthing person into certain choices just because that’s what they prefer

  • They do not take over the role of the partner

  • They do not catch the baby

Evidence Based Research 

Further reading: 2017, Bohren et al. published an updated Cochrane review on the Benefits of Continuous Care in Labor and Delivery.


ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) as cited from Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth:

"Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor."

Evidence Based Birth article Evidence on: Doulas

© 2018 lovingly crafted by ❤️Laine Montgomery - Doula Laine BIRTH DOULA in ATX