What is it like to work with a doula?

A doula stays with you throughout labor. A doula usually meets with you before labor to learn your personal preferences, priorities or concerns, and stays with you until an hour or so after the birth of your baby to help get breastfeeding started.

Most doulas are also available before labor and in the days after the birth of your baby to provide information, reassurance, nonmedical advice and, when appropriate, referrals. The Working with a Labor Support Specialist/Doula section of this website provides more details and information, but here are some benefits of working with a doula:

  • According to your wishes, she may be close to you, often with physical contact, nearly all of the time.
  • She offers comfort measures such as cool cloths, massage and handholding.
  • She gives emotional support, including reassurance, encouragement and honest praise.
  • She can suggest ways to improve labor progress or ease discomfort.
  • She can explain what is happening or interpret what hospital personnel have said.
  • She can help you communicate your needs to hospital staff and support decisions that you and your partner have made.
  • She supports your spouse/partner as well, acting as a resource and guide and making sure his or her needs are met.
  • Contrary to some people's concerns that a doula might disturb the privacy and intimacy of birth, a doula can actually help to protect privacy and create an intimate atmosphere in a busy, institutional setting.