What a Doula Does and What She Doesn’t Do


My wonderful midwife, Suzanne Smith, helping dry baby Isaac.

Recently I’ve discovered most people do not know what a doula is. People usually know it has something to do with birth. Many people I’ve talked to think it is a midwife. Others think it is a type of nurse.

Hopefully this post will help you understand what a doula is and what she does.

What a doula does:

  • Provide physical comfort by using massage, breathing and relaxation techniques, position suggestions, as well as pain relief techniques.
  • Provide emotional comfort with reassurance of normality, mother’s ability to cope, encouragement, validation of feelings.
  • Inform clients by answering questions with accurate information and seek out information when they don’t know the answer.
  • Act as an extra pair of hands for parents by getting food for partner, extra pillows, blankets, ice chips/drinks/snacks for mother, take pictures.
  • Encourage self-determination by supporting clients’ goals, making sure clients understand their choices, translate jargon as necessary.

What a doula does NOT do:

Midwife, Suzanne Smith

  • Practice medicine, do exams (no cervical exams) or procedures, make diagnosis or prescribe treatments, give second opinions, assist physician or midwife with medical care (adjust iv, administer oxygen, etc).
  • Make decisions for clients by advising or persuading clients to follow a particular course, talk about clients outside their presence, withhold approval for using or avoiding pain medications, and speak on behalf of the clients to the medical staff.

In short, a doula is a guide helping the mother and her partner through pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

For more information on what the difference is between a midwife and a doula follow this link http://www.omahabutterfly.com/whatsthedifferencebetweenamidwifeanddoula.htm

“When midwives are attending to clinical matters, birth doulas are focusing on the mother and helping her get through her contractions.  Where the midwife’s first priority is the safe delivery of mother and baby, the doula’s first priority is the mother’s mental well-being, and the support of the growing family as a unit.”


*Photos taken by OpieFoto.com
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This entry was posted in Birth, doula, pain management and tagged on by .

About Marcie

Marcie Hunter is a professional birth doula. She strives to help birthing women and their supporters have the information they need to make informed birth choices, in order to navigate their way through the birthing experience. This helps moms feel confident, cared for, and have a more intimate, connected birth experience.