Many people wonder, why have a doula if they have their partner in the room. Or, what does a doula do. Well, a doula has a very specific job that differs from the husbands.

The doula is hired by the couple to help them have a better birth experience after an initial interview of many doulas. Once a doula is chosen, before the women begins her labor, she will meet with the couple to discuss their plans for the birth. At this meeting the doula will talk about the preparation they have had for the birth such as classes or books. The doula will assist the couple to find any other resources or information they need regarding their specific concerns or situation. She will then write up a birth plan that they will then take to the doctor and to the hospital. The doula may also go over some helpful positions for the birth that the couple can practice. If the doula is hired early in pregnancy, she is there for the mother’s emotional support throughout pregnancy.

Then when the women begins labor she calls the doula and the doula is there for support and to answer any questions she may have. The doula can assess where she is her labor and offer suggestions that will help her. Some doulas will help women labor at home, especially the woman that wants to go to the hospital at the last possible minute.
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Photo by Lindsey - see links/resources
Once labor starts to progress, the doula stays with the laboring woman and does not leave her side. She is there for emotional and physical support. Some examples of physical support would be massage, cold or hot packs, warm blankets, position suggestions and help getting into them. Emotionally it can be very stressful or scary being in labor, not knowing what to expect or where your body is at in the birth process. Some women wonder if they are doing or acting how they should and the doulas constant encouragement and reassurance helps to alleviate all of the stress. The partner can become very nervous as well and the doula could help to calm them as well. Sometimes all a woman needs is a hand on her, other times the woman doesn’t want any touch, but she needs the doula to talk her through the contractions and/or breath with her. Some woman need everything explained to them to help them to understand and process everything that is going on. What ever it is the woman needs, the doula is there watching and assessing her mood, how relaxed she is, how different stimuli affect her and she works accordingly. Dads and partners often can become very stressed and nervous. They sometimes feel helpless and the doula can help ease his fears with her support as well. Dads usually feel very relieved to have an extra person there who understands what is going on.
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Photo by Lindsey - see links/resources
After the birth the doula is still there for the mother. She usually stays for 1-2 hours after the birth. The mother may still have some concerns or questions, or she may just not want to be left alone. Also, if the baby is having trouble
breast-feeding, the doula is able to help with that as well. When the family is home with their new baby the doula will then have another meeting with them to talk about how the birth went and to answer any questions they may have about the birth.

There are a few things that a doula will not do. First, a doula will never speak for the laboring couple. She knows the birth plan and helps to make sure that is followed, but she will not speak for the woman in labor. A doula will facilitate communication between the staff and the couple, but not speak for them. A doula will also, not preform any medical procedures.


an hour after Lacey was born at home

When choosing a doula, you should interview more than 1 until you find one who you feel fits best with you. Below I have listed the questions you should ask considering who to hire. These questions can also be found at dona.org

Questions to ask a doula before you hire:

What kind of training do you have?
Do you have a back up? Can we meet her?
What are your fees, what does it include and what is your refund policy?
How many births do you take on a month?

Questions to ask in an interview with a doula:

What is your birth experience?
What is your
philosophy about birth and supporting woman in child birth?
May we meet to discuss our birth plans and what role you will play as our doula?
May we call you with questions and concerns before and after the birth?
When do you join a woman in labor? Do you come to our home or meet at the place of birth?
Do you meet with us after the birth to review the labor and answer questions?

Doulas and Dads:

Dads have a very hard job. Their job is not quite as much work as the laboring mother, but the dads also don’t have the hormone cocktail to help them through the hard work. Dad’s need a break whether it is to take a short nap or eat a snack or possibly a meal, to fully be there for the mom. If the dad is alone with the laboring mom, it can be very frightening for her to be left alone during this time. Also, if he must eat, it should never be done in-front of the mom who may be very hungry but can not eat because of hospital orders.

Dad’s also can feel very helpless because things are not what they expected or there may be something that is out of their control. Dad’s are the closest person to the mom and they know them best. Many times when a dad see’s the mom struggling, he gets worried and wants to do anything to make her comfortable. Sometimes all she needs is an empathetic person to calmly help her through a contraction. A doula will catch on to this and help set the father at ease.

One of my jobs as the doula often times has been to help the dad help the mom. Sometimes dad’s don’t know what to do, what might help the mom if she just keeps getting frustrated at him for not doing the right thing. Doulas are experienced and know what women in labor need so I often give ask the dad to help me with something specific or I will have him do something like rub her feet or put a cool cloth on her forehead when I notice it is needed.

Dad’s and doulas truly work as a perfect team for the laboring mother and the doula can help the dad enjoy the experience as much as the mom.


Conscious Birth is serving Placentia, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Brea, Anaheim, Irvine, Newport Beach, Alicia Viejo, Mission Viejo and other Orange County, CA cities. I am also very near, some Riverside and San Bernardino County cities. If you are interested in meeting with me, please e-mail kristen@bestocdoula.com or call 714/269-0172.