A doula, or labour coach, provides support, help and advice during labour. This type of female figure has existed throughout history. Modern doulas provide support for the whole family during labour, and often before the birth as well.
The doula provides support for both the mother and the father/partner.
The doula's task is to create a positive birthing experience, be there for everyone involved and assist with everything that falls outside the duties of the midwife and the doctor. The doula aims to create a positive birthing experience that remains a happy memory for the parents. She shares her experience, strength, calm and practical knowledge.
Providing support in consultation with the parents
The doula creates a secure, warm atmosphere in consultation with the parents and is present throughout the birth. She gives no medical advice, and her role is clearly defined in relation to the staff at the maternity ward, who have the medical responsibility.
The doula supports both the parents
She might decorate the labour room, play the music chosen by the parents, supply food and drink, perform massage and other relaxation, and provide calm, positive support to both parents. A doula supports both parents. The partner is always the mother's primary source of support. For this reason, the doula helps the partner to help the mother. The aim is to make the couple secure and have faith in their own strength and resources. Read more about how the father or partner can be more actively involved in the pregnancy.
Get support from a friend or a professional doula
Essentially, a doula is a woman who supports another woman and her partner during childbirth. So if you assist a friend or relative during labour, you can be described as a doula.
But there are also trained professional doulas. A professional doula is booked and paid for by the parents. Doulas work outside the hospital system.
Doulas have existed throughout the ages
The word derives from Greek and means, roughly, "female caregiver". Women experienced in childbirth have helped other women to give birth throughout the ages and in many different cultures. Read about Home birth.
In the past, it was commonplace for women other than the midwife to gather round and provide support and assistance to the woman in labour. Giving birth with a doula can be a way of honouring this age-old female tradition.