What is a Doula?

“Doula” is a word that some people are familiar with, while others aren’t. When I initially explained to my family and friends that I was training to become a Doula, their first question usually was “what is a doula?” So if you’ve heard of the word but aren’t sure what it means or are interested in learning more about what we do, let me break it down for you. The word “Doula” originates from Ancient Greece, meaning “a woman who serves”. Some people who hear this word, don’t take it seriously because it’s not necessarily a well-known term. The birth worker community is working hard to change the language so we are acknowledged and recognized as professionals by all healthcare providers - doctors, OBGYNs, nurses, etc. Another word for “Doula”, is Maternal Support Practitioner, or MSP. There are some misconceptions about what a Doula actually does. Let’s clear up any confusion, shall we?

What a Doula DOESN’T do:

  • take the place of a OB, Midwife, Doctor, Nurse, OR partner of the birthing person

  • perform any medical procedures or catch the baby as it is being born

  • interfere with the health care provider’s medical decisions (unless they go to do something without the consent of the birthing person or their support system - basically going against basic human rights)

  • pass along unsolicited advice based on past experience or judgment on the birthing person’s decisions

  • try to sway the birthing person to follow certain pregnancy, labor, or birth practices.

  • replace or play the role of the birthing person’s partner or support system (unless they do not have one)

What a Doulas DOES:

  • is on call 24/7 once the birthing person signs their contract (the client can call, text, or email with any questions or concerns they may have)

  • supports both the birthing person AND their partner (if they have one)

  • helps clients create a birth plan that aligns with their values and beliefs

  • recognizes and acknowledges that pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period are major life experiences for their client(s), experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives

  • provides informational support by giving clients evidence-based resources on any and all topics they would like to learn more about

  • provides emotional support to clients throughout the ENTIRE process (pregnancy, labor + birth and in some cases, the postpartum period)

  • provides physical support (comfort measures) during labor and birth and shows the birthing person’s partner how they can best support them during this time

At the end of the day, what’s most important to me is that my client and their partner or support system has a positive birth experience. My goal while working with clients is to ensure that they feel safe, empowered and educated going into their birthing experience. Why is that so important to me? It’s scientifically proven that if a birthing person feels unsafe while in labor, contractions can actually STOP. That fact blew my mind when I learned it. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why would you want to give birth and bring your baby into an environment you don’t feel is safe? This is just one of the MANY amazing things I have learned while training to become a Doula. I really can’t wait to share more with you all! I hope this blog post was helpful and answered any questions you may have had! However, if you do have more questions - send me over an email, I’d be more than happy to chat with you!