Upcoming Events
doula test
doula qual exp
doula faq
doula form
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a doula? What are the different types of doulas?

A: Doula, pronounced doo'-la, is a Greek word which has come to mean:

"a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after childbirth."
(Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus: Mothering the Mother)

A birth doula is a woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth.

A postpartum doula is a woman who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

A certified doula is one who has some kind of formal training and experience.

Q: What is the role of a doula during birth?

A: The role of a doula during birth is multifold:

  • To recognize that this is a key experience the woman will remember all her life
  • To understand the physiology and emotional needs involved
  • To assist the woman in preparing for and carrying out her preferences
  • To stay with the woman throughout the process
  • To provide emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as to help the woman get the information she needs to make an informed decision
  • To facilitate communication between the labouring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
  • To perceive her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the experience
  • To allow the woman’s partner and others to participate at their own comfort level

Q: If the doula is there for the mother, what is the role of the father? Will he feel alienated?

A: The doula is there to provide guidance and support to the father as well. Her presence does not replace the father, rather it enables him to participate with increased confidence - at his own comfort level - without fearing deficiencies in labour support. Furthermore, it allows the birthing mother to have the best of both worlds - her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in birth.

Q: What does a father-doula partnership look like at the time of birth?

A: The partnership is based on shared respect and appreciation for each others’ role, the birth process, as well as the very special needs of the mother in labour. The doula is there to offer guidance and support if and when the birthing woman desires – basically, to “fill in the blanks”. Otherwise, she remains a quiet, comforting presence for everyone involved.

Q: Wouldn’t it feel strange to have a stranger at the birth?

A: The doula is no stranger to the parents. Often, she is someone who has already established a relationship with them prior to the birth – a relationship based on a shared understanding of their birth preferences. Typically, the doula will meet with the parents-to-be at least twice before the birth. One of the most significant roles of a doula at birth is to protect and enhance the memory of this personal experience for both the mother and father.

Q: We already took childbirth classes. Why should we get a doula?

A: Because getting a doula would be the next natural step to ensuring that you have the support you need at your birth. Futhermore, there are numerous short-term and long-term benefits associated with having a doula present. These include:

  • 50% reduction in cesarean section rate
  • 25% shorter labour
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 30% reduction in painkiller use
  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Decreased postpartum depression
  • Increased satisfaction with partner and birth experience

As Dr. John H. Kennell puts it: “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

Q: What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A: A midwife, like a doctor, is a primary care provider. She is a specialist of normal pregnancy and birth, trained to provide all necessary medical care to ensure the health and well-being of you and your baby up to six weeks postpartum. A doula works as part of the birth team, with a midwife or doctor and nurse. She does not perform clinical tasks such as blood pressure readings, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, and others. The doula is there to provide only physical comfort, emotional support, and advocacy. Often times, especially at a busy facility such as a hospital, midwives have to do a lot of paperwork, in between clinical tasks. This may limit the amount of time they can invest in providing labour support to the birthing mother. That’s where the doula comes in – to bridge the gaps in modern maternity care.

© 2010 Muna Bashir
Design by Farnaz Waheed