What does a Doula do?

A doula offers:

  • Professional birth support to you, your partner and family

  • Physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labour and sometimes beyond;

  • The comfort of experienced continuous one-on-one care by someone you know.


This is usually done via:

  • A specific number of visits to your home during pregnancy

  • Accompanying you to hospital/caregiver visits

  • Assistance in birth planning and preparation (inc. a birth plan)

  • Provision of information and resourcesRelaxation and emotional support throughout pregnancy

  • Being on call 24/7 approx 2 weeks before and after your due date

  • Attendance at your labour and birth; and post natal visits to help your new family settle, helping with general baby care, feeding options or just to be those extra hands

It is important to clarify exactly what each doula offers and choose the one that best suits and your family.


Where does a Doula work?

Anywhere! A doula works in birth centres, private and public hospitals and at homebirths, always in conjunction with midwives/doctors – never as the sole care giver. Doulas work privately with you and are not employed by your midwife/doctor or by the hospital.


A Doula and your partner

A doula’s role complements and enhances your partner’s role. Studies have shown that partners felt more enthusiastic about the labour and that they felt their contribution was more meaningful and helpful. Not only did the partners report higher levels of satisfaction after the birth, but mothers reported feeling more satisfied with their partner’s role at birth too.


What a Doula is NOT

Doulas are not medically trained. They do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or foetal heart rate monitoring, give medical diagnosis/advice or second opinions.


The benefits of having a trained Doula

Studies have shown that having a doula present during labour:

  • Shortens the labour process (Campbell et al, 2006;   Langer et al 1998)

  • Reduces caesarean section rates ( Scott et al 1999;    Kennell et al, 1991);

  • Has a positive effect on breastfeeding (Langer et al, 1998);

  • Enhances the wellbeing of mothers and babies, reduces the need for medical assistance, mothers feel better about themselves, more positive about the labour and bond more easily with their babies (Marshall H Klaus, John H Kennell and Phyllis H Klaus, The Doula Book, Cambridge, Perseus Publishing, 2002);

  • Increases the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth (i.e. give birth with neither caesarean nor vacuum nor forceps), women were less likely to use pain medications, had slightly shorter labours, had no identified adverse effects and women were more satisfied (Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, Cochrane Summaries, 2013)

  • Improves mothers perception of her experience of labour, her ability to cope with labour, herself as a woman and of her body 
    ("How mothers rated their birth experience with or without a doula", Gordon et al : 1999, Obstetrics and Gynecology 93.no.3 (1999): 422-26.)

  • Improves mothers self-esteem, lowers anxiety and reduces depression at 6 weeks post-partum (www.bellybelly.com.au)​

Photograph  by Victoria Berekmeri 


Roles of Doulas