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What is a Doula?

There are two types of doulas - birth and postpartum.  I would love to explain the role of a birth doula.

The title doula was taken from a Greek word basically meaning “woman servant”.    They provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy and the labor process.  That can include preparing a family for birth, supporting them through the labor, and postpartum follow up.  During the labor it might be position changes, explanations of options, what is normal and what might happen next.

Pam England in her book “Birthing From Within” likened a doula to a sherpa helping you climb the Himalayas.  Doulas are birth guides - someone familiar with the labor process, with birth options, and usually with your birthing location.  Their support can help you feel more confident in choices and comfortable with the process.

Doulas are not involved in the medical part of your birth.  They cannot make your choices for you, but when you need to discuss a choice in labor - they can help you formulate your questions so you feel more informed.  With continuous labor support, they are aware of the progress of the labor, what you have tried, what questions you might have and many times educate you along the way.

Doulas are very helpful when families are hoping to achieve an unmedicated birth.  But they can also help families  when they are planning medication in their labor. The choice is yours!

Does a doula replace any of your support team - not at all!  Besides the laboring mom - their partner needs support whether it’s bringing a chair to sit on, or something to eat or drink, helpful suggestions or giving them a break for a power nap. In fact they are there to support anyone in the room with information or suggestions.

Many families have included doulas in their birth team and would love to share their experiences with you.  Most of them will tell you great birth stories.

So why not consider a doula?


Cyndi Whitwell, CD (DONA)

Contributing Author


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