birth doula is a companion who supports a birthing person during labor and birth. Birth doulas are trained to provide continuous, one-on-one care, as well as information, physical support, and emotional support to birthing persons and their partners.

 

What does a Doula Do?

One-on-One Care

For my practice as a Doula, I schedule three prenatal appointments, I am there for the birth, and schedule two appointments postpartum. I will be on call for two weeks before and two weeks after the mother’s due date. When labor starts, I can come to their house as soon as they are ready, even in the beginning of labor, or I can meet you at the hospital. I will be there for continuous support throughout the entire labor experience.

Physical Support

This can include many different aspects, all of which will be discussed and will be up to the mother’s preferences. Some examples of physical support are as follows:

  • Soothing with touch through the use of massage, counter pressure, or a rebozo

  • Helping to create a calm environment, like dimming lights and arranging curtains

  • Assisting with water therapy (shower, tub)

  • Applying warmth or cold

  • Assisting the birthing person in walking to and from the bathroom

  • Giving ice chips, food, and drinks

  • Assisting in position changes

Emotional Support

One of the my primary goals is to care for the mother’s and partner’s emotional health and enhance their ability to have positive birth memories. Some examples of emotional support include:

  • Encouragement, reassurance, and praise

  • Helping the birthing person see themselves or their situation more positively

  • Mirroring—calmly describing what the birthing person is experiencing and echoing back the same feelings and intensity

  • Accepting what the birthing person wants

  • Helping the birthing person and partner work through fears and self-doubt

  • Debriefing after the birth—listening to the mother with empathy

Informational Support

While I am also a Childbirth Educator and could also teach my clients a class, these are other examples of informational support:

  • Guiding the birthing person and their partner through labor

  • Suggesting techniques in labor, such as breathing, relaxation techniques, movement, and positioning

  • Helping them find evidence-based information about different options in pregnancy and childbirth

Advocacy

Advocacy can take many forms—most of which do not include speaking on behalf of the client. Some examples of advocacy that doulas have described include:

  • Encouraging the birthing person or their partner to ask questions and verbalize their preferences

  • Supporting the birthing person’s decision

  • Amplifying the mother’s voice if she is being dismissed, ignored, or not heard, “Excuse me, she’s trying to tell you something. I wasn’t sure if you heard her or not.”

  • Creating space and time for the birthing family so that they can ask questions, gather evidence-based information, and make decisions without feeling pressured


If a Doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.
— Dr. John Kennell