Answers to your questions about doulas

What is a doula?

A doula is someone who provides unconditional assistance and support to a person during major life transitions and events- primarily during the childbearing year. There are also abortion doulas, death doulas, miscarriage doulas, and adoption doulas.


Is a doula the same as a midwife?

No. Midwives are trained health professionals who assist with birth medically, caring for both mother and baby during labor and birth. Midwives also perform prenatal and postpartum exams.

Doulas support birthing people emotionally, sometimes physically, but never medically. Doulas are not responsible for outcomes. Occasionally there may be overlap, for example, a midwife may be trained as a doula and connect with the birthing person on an emotional level.


What does a labor/birth/postpartum doula actually do?

Advocate for you, your family, and your baby.

Breastfeeding support- a postpartum doula will be knowledgeable of techniques conducive to bonding and breastfeeding baby.

Comfort, Coping, and Confidence- your doula is present to be a reflection of you.

Decrease labor time and risk- doulas improve birth outcomes!

Emotional Support- the bond you create with your doula before the birth will help you through the emotional aspects of labor. Your doula will know what you need to hear to get you through the intense parts of labor. A postpartum doula can also help you navigate the baby blues or postpartum depression by sharing resources for further help.

Feed you! Yes, many postpartum and full spectrum doulas will help you keep in good health prenatally and may help set up a meal train after your baby arrives. Ask your doula if this is a something you would like support in.

Guide you through the birth experience- your doula is all about you, your baby, and your family. A doula will listen to your desires and needs and make sure your birth team holds true to the intentions.

Hospital or Home support- doulas can help you navigate whatever environment you choose to give birth in.

Informs and offers Insight- your doula has most likely seen and done this before, and can offer all sorts of information to you.

Joy! Your doula can help capture the joy of welcoming your new babe into the world by taking pictures. Be sure to communicate with your doula before birth to verify that they are willing to do this. Your doula may also refer you to a professional birth photographer.

Keeps your space calm, clean, and conducive to the flow of labor. A doula is an extra set of hands to provide labor aids (birth balls, rebozo, a body to lean on) and can communicate your needs to friends and family who you may or may not want present in the labor space. Your doula may even help with dishes, laundry, and other household tasks so you can focus on bonding with your family.

Labor support and Love- your doula will become a close friend and provide support to your whole family, while not negatively interfering with your family dynamic.

Monitors your condition in early labor, typically over the phone until labor progresses, and can suggest activities or rest. Your doula will come when you ask them to and will stay until a bit after the birth.

Notifies your friends and family in the waiting room or through texts if you have chosen not to have them attend the birth but want to keep them updated!

Offers support in processing your feelings about what happened during labor and delivery.

Provides Partner support- your doula will be able to answer questions from you and your partner, and will provide strategies for your partner to best support you.

Quiet- Your doula will help maintain the birth environment by keeping others quiet (if that’s what helps you) or by toning, singing, chanting, etc.

Referrals and Resources- your doula can point you towards trusted people and services to help you during your childbearing year and beyond.

Suggests Strategies for getting comfortable and for helping your labor progress.

Touch- most doulas will be trained in providing some forms of touch to alleviate the intensity of contractions. They may offer foot or hand massages at prenatal visits. Some doulas are also trained massage therapists, but it’s important that you not pay extra for massage services unless your doula is licensed. Of course, you can always ask for a referral to a trusted perinatal massage therapist.

Unconditional Understanding- it is your doula’s job to support you through this life event without judgement or criticism. It is absolutely reasonable to interview a few doulas before making a decision. It is also okay to change doulas (and even healthcare providers) during your pregnancy.

VBAC- (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) Doulas can help guide you through a VBAC by providing emotional and physical support.

Water- doulas can help you find support and equipment for a water birth if that’s something you’re interested in. Your doula can also recommend relaxation techniques during labor that involve your shower or tub. In addition to physical support, your doula may remind you to drink water (yes, it’s okay to eat and drink during labor if you’re feeling up for it!) and help with other tasks in your birth space.

eXams- A doula will not perform physical exams, but can accompany you to appointments with your healthcare provider if you would prefer another pair of ears to make decisions or understand terminology and procedures.

Your go-to person for advice. Your midwife may not be able to spend an enough time with you prenatally to answer your questions. A doula is knowledgeable in fetal development, labor and birth anatomy and physiology, and occasionally as a lactation support person. While you should always go to your midwife or medical care provider for health-related concerns, a doula will be able to help you navigate many other questions about your childbearing year!

Zzzzz- a postpartum doula can help you catch a few zzz’s by holding your new babe or helping with other tasks around your home.


How much does a doula cost?

Most doulas charge between $500 and $2,500 for 2-3 prenatal visits and labor support. Some doulas provide full-spectrum support, while others specialize in one aspect of care.

A student doula might not charge for the first few births they attend, and you may find new doulas who have discounted rates. Many doulas are open to payment plans. Some birth centers and organizations offer discounted or free doula services for low-income families.


Is having a doula worth it?

Studies have proven that having a doula improves birth outcomes–

Births that take place with doulas present have a dramatically decreased rate of medical intervention including C-section (5.2% compared to the national average of 31%), episiotomy, and assisted delivery (vacuum or forceps delivery) according to a study of nearly 17,000 home-births (MANA).

You can read more here

And here


Can I have a doula if…


I am having a cesarean?

Yes! Whether it’s planned or unplanned, a doula can provide support in the form of

It may be helpful if you or your doula talks to the hospital before the birth to be clear with their policies on how many people are allowed to be with you in your room and during the actual procedure. In general, visiting your go-to hospital before the birth is a smart move. You can get acquainted with how things are run, find out their cesarean rates, and become familiar with the doctors who may be on call.


I know I want an epidural/pitocin/other drugs that are offered to me?

Of course- a well-rounded doula will know how to support you during these procedures to keep you informed, comfortable, and progressing in labor (to the best of their ability). Your doula can help you advocate for yourself and will be able to support you physically and emotionally when you encounter a different type of labor influenced by the drugs.


I want to give birth in a hospital?

Definitely. Your doula will advocate for you and they be familiar with the sometimes confusing terms and language used in hospitals. Your doula will help you stay true to your intentions for the birth. Having a doula attend your hospital birth will decrease your chance of unplanned medical interventions and increase your satisfaction with the birth experience.


I want to give birth at a birthing center/home/elsewhere?

Yes. A good doula will be able to provide support to you no matter where you choose to labor and deliver!


I am queer and/or trans?

Absolutely! There are many resources available for queer and/or trans folx out there. This is a list of LGBTQ+ inclusive doulas by state:

And a list of midwives:


I’m having an abortion?

Having a doula accompany you through an abortion can make all the difference- a trained abortion doula will be knowledgeable of the procedure and can keep you informed and relaxed. They will share comfort techniques and some abortion doulas even bring you a care package to lift your spirits and keep you comfy after the procedure.


I am a single parent?

Of course! In fact, having a doula attend your birth will give you someone to lean on (literally!)


How can I find a doula?

You can use these sites:

Or by researching doulas in your area.

If you live on Hawai’i Island, I may be available to be your labor, birth, postpartum, or abortion doula after September 1st. You can contact me at or call/text (715)338-0735, or visit my site Wildroot Birth Services


How can I become a doula?

There are several ways to become a certified doula, and many organizations out there to choose from.

I attended the Birth Doula Skills Program at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA and the Community Doula/ Preconception Course through The Sacred Birthing School in Kapahi, HI.

I would highly recommend both of these programs, and you can search for more near you through this site: