What is a Doula?

What is a Doula?

Hi, folks! Indy here.

INDY - NOV. 1, 2012

Last week, Mum told you I’d pick one winner to receive a Juju Band and five of Mum’s adorable greeting cards. 

I had so much fun sticking my nose in Pop’s Harley Davidson Motorcycle hat, and then grabbing a scrap of paper with my teeth.

Indy! Tell the truth.

Actually, Mum pleaded and coaxed, but when those papers crinkled I ran and hid under my blankie. My big brother, Patches, covered for me. He reached in with his teeth and pulled out the winner’s name.

And the winner is…LAURA BENNET. Yay! Please click on the word Mum. I know she’s waiting for your address.

Indy, I’m glad you told the truth. You can go back to biting Patches’ ears.

Now back to my scheduled post.

Today, I invited Stephanie Nickel to explain what a doula is and what a doula does.

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Stephanie and Amanda

Stephanie is not only a gifted writer and editor, but she helps deliver precious gifts.

She’s a certified labor doula through CAPPA Canada. CAPPA stands for Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.

Take it away, Stephanie.

Thanks, Tracy.

I get a variety of responses when I tell people I’m a labor doula. But the most typical is a raised eyebrow.


If you, like them, don’t really know what a doula does, let me explain. But first, let me point out what a doula does NOT do.

She does NOT…

1. Give medical advice.

2. Conduct medical tests.

3. Conduct medical examinations.

4. Criticize you for making decisions you feel are best for you—even if she may personally disagree with those decisions.

However, she does…

1. Provide resources and information so you can make decisions that are right for you, your partner, and your baby.

2. Meet with you before the baby comes. How many times you meet is up to you and your doula.

3. Join you when you go into labor at a previously agreed upon stage and location.

4. Make sure there’s always someone with you during labor, unless, of course, you want to be alone and it’s medically advisable.

5. Provide comfort measures. For example, a massage, counter pressure, verbal encouragement, or just a hand to hold.

6. Tend to your needs, and in some cases, the needs of your partner.

7. Suggest ways to cope with labor and keep things progressing.

8. Take pictures if you wish, if she’s photographically-inclined.

9. Help you get started with breastfeeding, if so desired.

10. Visit within the week after the baby’s arrival to go over the birth and offer encouragement.

In summary, a labor doula educates and informs about birth options before the baby arrives, offers physical and emotional support during labor, and gives encouragement and assurance shortly after you’ve settled in at home.

Though there is some overlap, the services offered by antepartum and postpartum doulas differ from that of a labor doula.

Below are quotes by two moms and a dad about labor doulas:

“My best friend’s sister was training to be a doula and needed to attend a live birth and offered to be my doula. She was a Godsend!”  – CS

“My friend is a doula, though I didn’t really know what that all meant. Six years ago, my sister was pregnant. Knowing she would be birthing without the support of the father…I suggested we go to one of my friend’s classes. From there, I learned more and more, and when it came time to have my first baby, I knew I wouldn’t go ahead without a doula by my side!” – AF

“I couldn’t pay her enough!” – A new dad’s quote about his wife’s doula after their first child was born.

Stephanie, I’ve learned so much. I wish I could have hired you when I gave birth.  🙂

Please be sure to check out Stephanie Nickel’s Eclectic Interests blog and her role as an editor at Christian Editing Services.

Have you hired a doula? Would you consider hiring a doula? Do you know anyone who has hired a doula?

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34 Responses

    • Until shortly before I began my course, I hadn’t heard of doulas either. 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear about your inability to have children. Thank you, especially, for reading this post.
      Stephanie recently posted..Finding EstaMy Profile

    • Hi Susan,
      I’d never heard of a doula until I met Stephanie either. I’m very sorry that you’re unable to have children.
      I’m a empty nester now, so having two pooches helps. At least there are no diapers to change and no sleepless nights. Indy’s a big old scaredy “cat”.

  1. Congrats to Laura!
    Yes, I had heard of a ‘doula’…my daughter-in-law mentioned it…but I don’t think she has one. I’ll be there (hopefully) when she gives birth…so perhaps I’ll be able to offer encouragement and a sense of calm.:) I was there for my daughter when she gave birth almost 5 years ago…and I know she was grateful for the loving support. I think it’s really important for an expectant mother to have someone by her side who cares about what SHE wants…as opposed to the docs & nurses who will usually do what the hospital wants…and the husband or partner who may be too emotionally invested in the moment to think clearly.:) Great interview, Tracy…about an important subject!
    Vivian Kirkfield recently posted..A Picture for Harold’s Room…Shoebox Crafts for KidsMy Profile

    • Hi Vivian,
      Your daughter-in-law will really appreciate your presence, and it’s great you were there for your daughter. When my daughter was born, my sister was by my side and lucky for me she was a nurse at the hospital where I gave birth. I still remember both of my children’s birth like it was yesterday. 🙂

    • One day I hope to attend the birth of a grandchild. I’ll have to wait and see what the future brings. Thanks for reading Tracy’s post, Vivian. All the best to your daughter-in-law and the whole family.
      Stephanie recently posted..Guest Kimberley PayneMy Profile

  2. HI Tracy and Indy,

    Great to hear from you both. Congratulations to Laura!
    I enjoyed learning about doulas. Tracy, you keep us educated and entertained.

    • Hey Linda,
      Indy here. Thanks for noticing me. I think Laura’s sleeping because I haven’t heard from her.
      Indy! Tracy here. We (Indy and I) are glad we entertain and educate. I’ll have to go hunting for Laura. 🙂

  3. I have three friends who used midwives and/or Doulas, and two thought it was wonderful.
    My daughter was posterior, though maybe that could have been handled. But my daughter Molly had severe pre-clapsia with both babies and an emergency C-section with the second, so she needed more help, too.
    We also had a friend to gave birth in water with her 6th child.
    There are so many choices, and Stephanie sounds wonderful. I love the picture of her with Amanda and the baby.
    Marylin Warner recently posted..SHIATSU AND PINEAPPLEMy Profile

    • You hit the nail on the head, Marylin. There are many choices, and most moms don’t realize they have options. I love providing them with resource material so they can make the choice that they feel is best for them. Supporting them and sharing in their birth experience is such a joy. I love it!
      Stephanie recently posted..Guest Kimberley PayneMy Profile

    • Hi Marylin,
      It would be interesting to hear why one of your friends wasn’t keen on using a doula. And you’re right, there are many choices and of course, each birth may require specialized intervention. Stephanie’s bubbly personality is one reason she’s an excellent. 🙂

  4. I’ve heard of Doulas before but I don’t personally know anyone who has used one. It sounds like a very fulfilling job.

  5. I have not hired a doula when birthing babies…but I did go through Lamaze classes and I used a midwife with my second child. Great subject, Tracy!

  6. That’s really helpful. I have a friend who is a doula and I kind of assumed that’s what she did, but felt a little silly asking. So thank you for the clarification. After reading this, I realize that a friend who did all this for me during the deliver of my second child was in fact acting as a doula. Who knew? I just know how grateful I was to have her!
    Laura Bennet recently posted..Do I Take Responsibility for Others?My Profile

    • Hi Naomi,
      So nice to see you pop up again on my blog. Hmm…very interesting that you have a doula living close by. It’s sounds mysterious doesn’t it?

  7. Pingback: How to Spot Twelve Invaluable Doula Traits