Pregnancy Home > What Doulas Do and Don't Do

Doulas provide a great deal of support in the course of a woman's pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience; however, they are limited in the kind of care they can provide. When considering whether or not a doula is right for you, think about the support you already have and what you may need down the road. Ask prospective doulas for references and about their credentials. Also see if your insurance plan will cover any of the cost.


What Is a Doula?

Congratulations -- you're pregnant! In this exciting time of your life you will obviously have many questions about your pregnancy and the birthing process. Once you start working on the preparations for your little one's arrival, you may come across the term "doula." What is a doula and why would you consider having one?
In its literal definition, doula is a Greek term that means "a woman who serves." A doula is basically there to "mother the mother." They are trained and experienced professionals who offer informational, physical, and emotional support to the mother before, during, and after the baby is born. Doulas serve in many different facets of the pregnancy and birth experience. In this article, we are going to outline some of the functions of these care providers to help aid in your decision -- this includes what doulas do and don't do.

Why Should I Consider a Doula?

Some women may feel quite confident in their ability to naturally take on the role of a mother-to-be. Some may not have many concerns about how to handle their pregnancy woes or about the birthing experience, or even what may happen after the baby is born. And there are some women who hear the word "doula" and connect it to a luxury they can't afford.
However, with that said, let's take a look at some of the benefits of using doulas and what they can provide. Research has shown that labors are shorter and have fewer complications when a doula is present at birth. Also, studies have shown that babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Research has also shown that having a doula help with postpartum life can help ease the transition of adding a new member to the family.
Some other benefits of having a doula include the following:
  • They understand the physical and emotional needs of a woman going through labor, helping with relaxation, positioning, and breathing techniques
  • They can help the mom-to-be in preparing and following through with the birth plan
  • They can help the parents be informed about various birth choices
  • They can be with the mother throughout the entire labor process, continuously reassuring and comforting her
  • They can help look after your partner as well, guiding them through ways to participate in the birthing and postpartum experience
  • They can provide physical, emotional, and objective support and also act as the voice of the mother in getting her needs met by the healthcare providers.
Doulas can also help during the postpartum period. This can include providing education, nonjudgmental support, and companionship to a new mom during the postpartum time. They can also help with newborn care and offer advice on how to help your family adjust to having a new addition. If you are having difficulties breastfeeding or caring for your newborn, doulas are also trained in ways to help soothe the child.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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