Monday, September 26, 2011


The word doula is pretty new to me.  I heard it for the first time several months ago and now it seems to be everywhere.  Doula, doula, doula.  Everywhere.  You can follow doulas on twitter.  There are eharmony-esque websites that connect families to doulas like and  A recent episode of The Rachel Zoe Project featured Ms. Zoe meeting with a doula to discuss her birth plan, a true sign that doulas are in fashion.  Rodger calls the doula a scam.  Seriously.  Click here to see a clip of the highly awkward meeting.

Rodger Berman (aka Mr. Rachel Zoe). What a goofy picture.  
A bit of trivia: Rodger had the Bieber coif before Bieber.

I'll back up.  What is a doula?  A doula is someone who provides emotional and physical support to a pregnant woman during labor, delivery and sometimes postpartum.  The emotional support is anything from encouraging words to visualization guidance to unity screaming.  Okay, I made that last one up, but you can imagine a doula and a pregnant lady screaming in unison as the pregnant lady pushes.  Ahhhhh!  Ahhhhh!  The physical support is anything from massage to aromatherapy.  A doula also provides educational information.  Postpartum support includes breastfeeding and general newborn assistance.

What is not a doula?  Someone who provides medial support to a pregnant woman.  A doula does not do sonograms or physical examinations.  That clinical stuff is left to the licensed and trained professionals.  Doulas, on the other hand, don't necessarily have any license or training.  Many countries have no regulations or standards for doulas (aka anyone can call herself a doula).  Though, nowadays most doulas are in fact trained.

George Clooney is neither a doctor nor doula.  

Most importantly, why are doulas so hot right now?  From my outsider perspective, I sort of envision doulas to be like pregnancy therapists.  People seek guidance from therapists for all sorts of stressful issues and stressful patches of life.  Pregnancy and childbirth are not just about the clinical stuff.  There is an overwhelming amount of emotional and physical change that has nothing to do with the clinical stuff. That is a doula's wheelhouse.  Doulas empower pregnant women to have a positive and awesome experience by helping with the stressful stuff.  

Have you ever used a doula?  Do you plan to?  Are you a doula and feel like dropping some knowledge?


Sisters 'N Cloth said...

I think the reason doulas are "in" right now is because its the way we were meant to labor - with other women supporting and encouraging us through the process. Women who can remind us that what we are going through is normal, and that it won't last forever!

If you are aiming for a drug free labor, a doula is especially helpful. Even if you've done a lot to prepare yourself, in the middle of contractions you may not remember any of it, and a doula can remind you to try another position, or a warm compress, or massage, etc.

Doulas have also been shown to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. This article had some great information:

I've had four drug free labors, without a doula, but only because they are very hard to find in the area I live in. I recommend them to anyone who has the option though!

And sorry for the extremely long comment. It's one of my favorite subjects!


ImarriedAtexan said...

I will definitely have a doula because they not only provide much needed support during labor but they also work as your advocate.

Marianna said...

I delivered my son with the help of a doula. I highly recommend a well-trained doula to help through the labor and delivery process.

Doctors, midwives, and even nurses actually spend very little time in the labor and delivery room. This leaves new moms and dads--many of whom have never witnessed a birth first hand--really alone in what is a super intense process.

Doulas provide support with pain-management, informed decision making, and they provide continuity of care that the parents might not otherwise have. I highly recommend doulas for anyone preparing for childbirth, whether they plan to deliver medication-free or not.

Mother of Pearl said...

Doulas weren't well known or used in the suburbs back in the early 1980's when I was having babies, but a wonderful neighbor who was a nurse midwife was starting to serve as a doula. I wish I had asked her to be there with me through the hours of labor.

Doulas are not only for the mom, but they help the dad stay calm. They take the pressure off the dad, who wants to help but has no idea how, and allow him to be a loving partner and father.

Leah (it's me) said...

So many great comments about doulas. It sounds like choosing a doula is a fantastic choice. Thanks everyone.