Doula  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotDoula is an ancient Greek word that means "woman's servant." Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth. They provide physical comfort and emotional support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. However, they don't provide medical assistance or deliver babies.

dotDoulas "mother the mother" by offering assistance and by making sure the needs and concerns of the mother and father are met during labor and delivery. They enhance the birth experience and work in cooperation with doctors, midwives, nurses, family and the woman's partner. They can be found in many settings, including hospitals, homes and birth centers.

To say this field is female-dominated would be an understatement.

dotBenefits of having a trained doula include a 50 percent reduction in the Cesarean rate and a 25 percent shorter labor, according to Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth.

dotThere's no typical day for a doula -- the schedule is determined solely by the rhythm of each individual labor and delivery. Mother and doula first meet and discuss expectations for the birth. Once labor begins, a doula is with the mother until the birth takes place.

Post-partum doulas support the mother and the mother's partner after the birth.

At a Glance

Give physical and emotional help during the labor and delivery of a child

  • This is a non-medical career
  • Work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, homes and birth centers
  • Education: training and certification with Doulas of North America (DONA)