Giving birth: labor support and the role of doulas

Giving birth: labor support and the role of doulas

Here we look at how you could make labor a more positive experience by having a doula, a professional labor-support person, be with you and your family.

Like most pregnant women, you probably fantasize about what awaits you during labor and birth. While no labor is perfect, one of the best ways to make it apositive experience is to have people with you who will meet your physical, emotional and informational needs. These people might include your partner,your mother, or your best friend.

You could also hire a doula to be with you and your family. A doula is a woman who is trained to help women through labor. She's a part of your birthingteam, along with you, your partner, family members, your physician or midwife, and your nurse.

What doulas do
A good doula supports your wishes for your labor and birth. She understands all the physical and emotional aspects of labor and can provide you withinformation you need as your labor progresses. She's nurturing and comforting, and she's well versed in techniques that can help ease the pain anddiscomfort of labor. For example, she might suggest a new position, offer a massage, or lead you through a special relaxation technique like patternedbreathing.

Know your facts about doulasa
It's important to understand that a doula is not a trained medical caregiver; she does not give medication or make medical decisions. However, she is apart of the birthing team and can offer you the individual attention and support you need throughout your labor and delivery. She can also help you withbreastfeeding after the baby is born and can make visits to your home after you leave the hospital to see how you and the baby are doing.

Finding the right doula
Begin your search at the beginning of the third trimester to give yourself plenty of time. When hunting for a doula, ask the following questions to helpdetermine whether a particular person is right for you:

What is her training and experience with birth? (She should be certified through a national organization such as Doulas of North America.)

  • What is her philosophy about supporting mothers and fathers during labor?
  • What types of things will she do for you in labor?
  • Does she have a positive working relationship with the hospital where you plan to give birth?
  • Will she be available at the time of your due date?
  • Does she have back-up if she isn't able to attend your birth?
  • What are her fees?

For more information about doulas or to locate one in your area, visit the Web site of Doulas of North America (DONA).

Leave a comment *Mandatory text
I confirm I have written the entirety of the content and agree to the community guidelines and terms and conditions
  • Show comments


Veronica 12/24/2015

I never got to have a doula didn't even know about it. Probably because i went into early labor though

Good to know

Tsatsaa 12/12/2015

I have never heard about the doula before when I was in Mongolia. Really helpful information for the expecting moms like me.

This is a great article

sonia246 8/13/2015

This is a great article. Very helpful indeed. Please read and share.

good to read

Pirang 8/9/2015

its good to have this website because u will learn a lot


piachen9 8/1/2015

just trying to get to know this website!

Signs of Labor: How to Read Your Body’s Signals

The big day is coming up soon, and you may be wondering how you'll know when labor has begun. Luckily, your body will likely provide some pretty good signals. Find out more about labor signs.

Read more


Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D.

Safety First! Tackling the task of baby proofing

Watch the ups and downs as the Barstons give their home a baby proofing makeover. To see their results, tune in now.

Read more