What Does a Doula do?

A doula has many important responsibilities that can change from day to day depending on the needs of the mother.  Because each mother is different, the duties of a doula can be varied from one job to the next.

In general, a doula provides continuous aid to the mother in the form of emotional support, providing evidence-based information, and physical support.

Below is a detailed list of what a birth doula in her job once she has finished her training.  Her job covers the mother’s pregnancy, labor/birth, and postpartum periods.

What Does a Doula do During Pregnancy?

Expectant mothers often feel overwhelmed and anxious regarding their upcoming delivery.  A doula develops a personal relationship with the mother in order to provide companionship and lift morale. Her job encompasses the following responsibilities during the pregnancy:

  • Recognize that birth will be a momentous and emotional time for the mother
  • Form a birth plan tailored to the mother’s needs and desires
  • Relieve stress and anxiety through massages
  • Encourage the mother to communicate her needs and concerns, no matter how big or small 
  • Be available to the mother 24/7 by contact through phone, text, or email
  • Educate the mother on what to expect during her pregnancy and labor in the form of evidence-based information.  Evidence-based advice is practical educational information based on real life examples and results.

What Does a Doula do During Labor and at Birth?

Labor can be a challenging and sometimes painful experience.  A doula is there alongside the mother
during her labor and birth and serves as an advocate.  Her role during labor and at birth includes the following:

  • Educate the mother on the stages of labor
  • Instruct her on various complications which can occur during labor
  • Inform the mother on medical and non-medical alternatives to procedures used during labor
  • Provide evidence-based information to the mother on the benefits and potential drawbacks of natural childbirth
  • Demonstrate relaxation and pain management techniques such as breathing exercises
  • Provide information on the most comfortable labor positions for effective pushing
  • Assist the mother’s medical team, which may include nurses, midwives, and doctors

What Does a Doula do in the Postpartum Period?

The immediate postpartum period refers to the initial few weeks after the birth of the infant.  At that time, the mother is tired and vulnerable, so it is important that the doula remains at her side to support her until she can get back on her feet.  A doula’s job during the postpartum period involves the following:

  • Train the mother on the breastfeeding process and techniques to ensure success
  • Assist the mother with having a comfortable bedrest
  • Serve as the liaison between mother and nurse or doctor during followup visits
  • Perform small errands such as grocery shopping or tidying up the house
  • Assist the mother in caring for her newborn by changing diapers or giving baths
  • Strengthen the bond between mother and newborn
  • Encourage participation in caring of newborn from the father and siblings