A birth doula will walk with you through your pregnancy, labor, and birth, and often will visit you at least once postpartum. A birth doula meets with a pregnant person and their partner during pregnancy to determine what their birth goals are, provide information, and find out how a doula can help them. Once the pregnant person goes into labor, they or their partner will call for the doula, who will come to them and provide continuous comfort and support during labor. Some comfort and support measures include, but are not limited to:
A doula will also support the birth partner by assuring them that what is happening is natural and normal. A doula may "hold the space" for their clients by advocating for their birth plan and asking questions, but a doula does not replace the voice of the client.
Another way to think of a birth doula is as a birth coach. If your pregnancy, labor, and birth are a marathon, a birth doula is there to encourage and support you along the way.
What is a Doula?
If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.
- Dr. John Kennell
A postpartum doula is a support person who works with a new parent and their family in the weeks and months following birth. Many new parents experience anxiety and are overwhelmed by the presence of a new child in their home. Many people have a flood of hormones after birth that are perfectly normal, but that can be confusing and scary. A postpartum doula comes into the home to support and normalize this adjustment period. A postpartum doula may offer:
A postpartum doula is not a nanny or housekeeper, though they may look after the children while the parent(s) are home, or aid in some light housework.
A doula is a professional who is trained in childbirth and provides continuous support for a mother and her partner during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Doulas provide emotional and physical comfort and support measures for a birthing person and their family. A doula is not a medical professional, like a midwife or nurse, and does not provide medical assistance, such as checking dilation, administering drugs, or catching the baby. Doulas are not licensed, but many choose to be certified through various certifying organizations. Evidence shows that "women who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth." [Rebecca Dekker, Evidence Based Birth, The Evidence for Doulas] Doulas work within a set scope of practice which may include the following: