The Birth Survey Booby Traps

What is a Doula?

pregnancy photo and ultrasound

The word, "doula," comes from the Greek word for the most important female slave or servant in an ancient Greek household, the woman who probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing. The word has come to refer to "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth." (Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, Mothering the Mother)


A doula...

  • Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life...
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor...
  • Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth...
  • Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor...
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions...
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical careproviders...
  • Perceives her role as one who nutures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience.

The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.