What Is a Doula (And Why You Need One For Your Birth Journey!)

by | Mar 3, 2021

I see the question often come up…

“What is a Doula?” 

Don’t feel dumb for asking or wondering yourself!

Before I was pregnant I  didn’t even know what a doula was or how they fit into the whole birthing scene. 

But after recently going through my first birth I can honestly say that hiring a doula- totally worth it!

Especially for us natural minded mama’s out there who are yearning for something more than a standard hospital labor full of medical interventions and drugs. 

During my pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery- our doulas were there with us every single step of the way. 

They’re truly wonderful!

What is a Doula

So the question still stands- what exactly is a doula?

Well, a doula is a trained professional who has to go through a training and certification process. 

With that training, they then are able to provide…

Physical support…

Emotional Support…

As well as be a great source of information along every step of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

A doulas goal is to help mama achieve her birth goals and have the most satisfying, positive birthing experience as possible. 

If we look back on history, much of the knowledge and support that a doula provides would’ve come from another family member living in the same house. 

But in today’s world, several generations of family members don’t live in the same house. So this knowledge isn’t able to be passed down as easily. 

This is where having a doula is great!

Doula’s bridge the gap between what once would’ve been filled by an older sister, mom, aunt or grandmother that had experience with birth. 

Women were never meant to go through the journey that is birth- alone! So in today’s world- hiring a doula is a great, and practical option for many.  

Why have a Doula?

While I was pregnant my husband and I looked heavily into educating ourselves on birth and how best to prepare for it. 

This became even more important because we wanted as much of a natural birth as possible. 

Trying to teach ourselves everything from reading online was tough!

So we decided to hire a pair of doulas to work with us. 

My husband would agree, hiring a doula was one of the best decisions we made during this whole birthing journey. 

Beyond just my own personal experience with doulas, there have been plenty of studies done that show just how effective having a doula on your team can be! 

A study published in 2011 goes on to say that..

“one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”

This study consisted of 12 different trials and over 15,000 women! What’s more is that those women who do use a doula are way more satisfied with their birth than those who didn’t use then. 

Additionally, benefits from having a doula include

  • Increased success rate of vaginal births
  • Less likely to use pain medication
  • Less likely of a cesarean procedure
  • Typically have a shorter labor
  • Overall are much more satisfied with their birthing experience
  • Less likely to have postpartum depression


Guys, it’s pretty clear- that those mama’s who have continuous support through pregnancy, birth and postpartum have a better outcome than those who don’t.

There are a ton of benefits to having someone like a doula on your team..

 And no drawbacks have been found so far!

From my own personal experience and other mama’s out there. I highly recommend that you find a doula that fits your needs! 

Especially if you’re looking to go the natural birth route. 

What does a Doula do?

So a good doula should be able to help you in all three phases of the birth journey

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Birth
  3. Postpartum

1. Support During Pregnancy

Doulas can be so helpful even before birth!

I highly recommend that you start looking for a doula as early as your second trimester- because there are several key benefits to bringing them in early- before you’re near your due date.

Assist with creating your birth plan

A birth plan is something that you should definitely consider writing- and a doula is a great resource to help you navigate that process.

My husband and I wrote one and it really made us slow down…learn, and think about the birthing process. 

We’re both so glad we did it! 

If you don’t know what a birth plan is or need some help on how to make one- check out my post where I explain it all! 

I even have a birth plan template that I designed for you so you don’t have to start from scratch!

Having a birth plan will put you so far ahead of other couples who choose not to do one. It forces you to learn and understand what options are available to you.

Above all, it just sets you up for success! 

Doulas have been through a lot of births and have a ton of firsthand experience!

Be sure to use their experience and ask them questions when you go to write your own birth plan. 

Help Educate you on the birth process and what to expect

There is a ton of information out there  and it can become overwhelming super quickly!

From what to expect leading up to labor

To get to the hospital or natural birth center (if you’re birthing at home- great! One less thing to worry about)…

To what happens after birth… 

A good doula can sit down with you beforehand and walk you through each step of the process. 

This is really important- because the less surprises there are during that crazy hectic birthing day- the better. 

My husband and I actually drove to the hospital several weeks before I was due so we understood where to park and walk in. 

This was a tremendous help because by the time we got to the hospital I was already in active labor. 

And about ready to pop!

Teach and Reinforce birthing positions

For those mama’s out there wanting a natural birth- you need to know different birthing positions.

More importantly- you need to practice them before you enter labor! 


Because not every position works for everybody. By trying them out before you’re in labor you’ll know which ones work best for you. 

Doula’s are very skilled in this area and can teach you these positions so you can practice them on your own at home. 

There are a ton of different positions…

So try them out with your doula and see which ones work best for you!

Enabling your doula to become your advocate during the birth process

This is arguably one of the most important reasons to ensure that you bring a doula in sooner rather than later. 

At the end of the day, a doula is there to serve as your advocate during birth, according to what you have written down on your birth plan. 

Are you starting to see now why birth plans can be so beneficial?

It’s their job to help you reach your goals and help you have a positive birthing experience. 

The only way for them to be able to do this effectively is if you tell them!

Doing this ahead of time will enable you to have a discussion so questions can be answered- and a plan can be made. 

Before it gets chaotic! 

Mama, trust me- your focus is going to be on one thing during labor- you. 

So lean on your partner and doula to take care of the other things that are going on around you.

Your doula is your advocate so that you get what you want during that special day! 

2. Support During Labor

Obviously the main reason you hire a doula is for support during actual labor and delivery. 

There are several key things that a doula does to help support you during this time… 

Advocate for your birth plan

That birth plan that you and your partner made? Your doula will work with your midwife, doctors and others in the room to help make sure that your plan is carried out. 

Birth can be a chaotic thing sometimes, and oftentimes even the best birth plan never goes exactly “as planned”.

Doctors and nurses may be moving fast paced and may not take the time to tell you everything they’re doing- although they should be doing this!! 

(Telling you what’s happening is part of informed consent and is another big topic that I’ll likely cover in another post soon.)

If for some reason there has to be any deviations to your birth plan- then it’s part of your doulas responsibility to make sure you and your partner know about it. So you can decide how you’d like to proceed! 

Remember- they’re there to support you!

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques are super important. During labor a million things will be running through your head. 

You’ll be very uncomfortable, likely in pain…

Your ability to relax will determine how successful your birthing experience will be.

If you are planning on a natural birth- drug free birth then being able to slip into a more relaxed state is crucial!

A doula is able to remind you of different relaxation techniques and can even help you do them.

Like a light touch on the back, or pouring warm water over your body if you’re in a tub or shower.

Again, it’s important to try these out beforehand and include them in your birth plan… 

This way your doula can step right into action and help you- rather than having a discussion first on what you like or don’t like in the heat of the moment!

Breathing techniques

Don’t underestimate the power of breathing! 

Breathing techniques are a wonderful tool for natural birthing mama’s out there to use. 

Doula’s are well trained in this area and are there to remind you to breath, and which techniques to use when. 

As with the positions, practice these techniques beforehand!

Labor positions

Channing labor positions is an important part of the natural birthing process. 

Sitting on your back, in a hospital bed, in stirrups is the most unnatural, and honestly the most uncomfortable position you can be in during labor. 

Insert photos of birthing positions and paths.

Let your doula help get you into different positions during labor. Remember- it’s all about staying comfortable and relaxed as much as possible. 

This allows for your body to open up and deliver the baby. There is no pushing here! You’re letting the body do the work. 

There are A TON of different birthing positions- and doulas are trained in all of them. So let them help you!

Making you as comfortable as possible

And finally, another great benefit of having a doula for support during labor is that they simply make your life easier and more comfortable. 

Bringing you healthy snacks, making sure you’re staying hydrated! Both of which are super important by the way. 

Especially since most mama’s will have a labor that is many hours. 

Brining over clothes to help you change into… 

Anything and everything you need, they’re there for you. 

3. Postpartum support

Alright, so you have successfully birthed your baby! Whoohoo! 

You and your partner made it home with your newborn. And then it hits you…

Now what?

Especially for first time parents- that feeling of now knowing what to do or how to do it can hit you hard. 

But don’t worry- because most doulas are trained in postpartum support and can be a huge help!


One of the biggest challenges a new mama will face is breastfeeding. 

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise- it’s not as easy as it looks- especially when you’re first starting out!

If you’re on the fence on whether you want to breastfeed or not, then check out my post on 10 great benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby!

Many doulas also specialize in lactation support and can help with things like…

How to hold your boob so little one can latch….

How to hold your little one…

What to do if your supply isn’t coming in…

There are just a ton ways a doula can assist with breastfeeding. 

They were a huge help for me after my husband and I got home from the hospital and I had breastfeeding questions. 

Baby care

Once you get home from the hospital it can be overwhelming for most first time parents.

How do we give baby a bath?

How should we put baby to sleep safely?

What are some other ways we can hold baby at home?

These are just some of the questions that a postpartum doula can help you answer.

You can also hire a doula to help take care of your baby for those first few weeks. This can be a great tool- especially while mama recovers. 

It’s great because mama can spend more time one herself, while also learning side by side with a professional on how to take care of little one. 

Support during transition period (insert postpartum support post)

Remember- a doula is there to make your life more comfortable during this awesome and challenging time as a new parent. 

Because once you leave the hospital or birthing center- that’s it! You’re basically on your own to take care of your new addition. 

And that’s why having a postpartum doula really helps parents to ease into this important transitional time. 

One of the best things I did in preparation for postpartum was gather the essentials. 

What to Look For When Hiring A Doula

While doulas are a great thing- and I strongly believe that you should have one…

Like anything- they’re aren’t all equal and you need to do your homework before you hire one. 

Here are some things you should be looking for when “interviewing” a doula. Remember- you’re hiring them to fill an important job, so be thorough. 


To be a doula there are certain training requirements that must be met. 

Typically this means approximately 7-12 hours of training, attending 3-5 live births, and a formal certification. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about training!


Some doula’s likely have additional certifications. For example, ours had certifications for postpartum support, as well as lactation. 

These doulas are awesome because you can use the same doula throughout the whole process- which makes everything just so much easier!


How much experience does the doula have? If you’re looking for someone who has more experience, then be sure to ask this question. They’ll be honest and up front. 

You’ll find that even those who are newer doulas typically have already seen dozens of births and plenty of experience. 


What availability does the doula have? Doula’s have other clients too- so you’ll want to make sure that they’ll be available to assist you when you need them!


Overall, doula’s are pretty affordable, but be sure to ask about cost. 

Oftentimes different plans are offered that have different services or the number of hours of support may vary. 

Usually, you can purchase a lower end plan and just add onto it if you find yourself needing more support than you originally thought.

Use your “gut instinct

You need to use your intuition or “gut instinct” when hiring. 

Will they support my birth plan?

Will I feel comfortable around them during labor?

Are they trustworthy?

Are they knowledgeable?

Do you get “feel good vibes” when talking to them?

Hiring a doula who isn’t a yes to every single one of those questions- probably isn’t going to work out that well.

Make sure you’re clear in what you’re looking for in a doula. 

They’ll tell you whether or not they can meet those expectations. 

How a Doula Interacts with Dad- A father’s perspective

For this section, I’m going to step aside and let my husband write this one. Because he had some great points from a dad’s perspective concerning a doula

Hey Raising Them Naturally Community! Thank you so much for finding this post. I hope it brings some value to you. 

My dad’s perspective on whether or not to hire a doula is nothing short of totally positive!

At first, I didn’t want to spend the extra money to hire a doula- but man am I glad we did. 

As dads we are coming from a different perspective when it comes to this whole birthing journey.

Not exactly knowing how to help our wives, or what they need- when they need it. 

Having a doula was so amazing for me because I literally felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. 

The pressure I felt bearing down on me was gone.

I wasn’t alone and had someone there with me to help support my wife Kelly. From getting into different birthing positions, to breathing techniques- a doula helps with it all. 

Dad’s I highly recommend it- truly. 

You know your wife well, but your doula knows birth even better!

Lean on them during this process, and I promise you- you’ll have a big sigh of relief.

Now that we are through this process- I can honestly say that hiring a doula was the best money we spent. It just made the whole process less stressful- especially for us dad’s out there!

This doesn’t mean you can hire a doula and then step back. Do your homework, learn and understand the birthing process. But lean on your doula to help bring it home come game time. 

10 out of 10- I would recommend finding a doula!

Key Points:

  • Doulas are trained professionals and are there for physical and emotional support.

  • There are many benefits to having a doula. Things like: shorter labors, improved labor & delivery outcome, less medical intervention

  • Doulas do many different things. Teaching you about the birth process, creating a birth plan, teaching relaxation techniques

  • Doulas can be a wonderful resource for expecting parents- especially new parents who haven’t gone through the birth journey

  • Be sure to hire a doula that fits your needs- they’re your advocate and are there to help you carry out your birth plan

  • Doulas are also great for supporting dad during labor and delivery. Dad knows mom well, but doulas know birth even better!

What other questions do you have about doulas? 

If you have questions- leave a comment and I’ll help answer them. 

Hi there! We're Kelly and Greg!

Hi there! We’re new parents- who are learning as we go! Realizing what it takes to raise kids in today’s crazy world, we strive to live healthier lives while finding natural alternatives to solve everyday problems. The world is complicated! Raising Them Naturally doesn’t have to be.
About Greg & Kelly Quante

About Greg & Kelly Quante

Kelly & Greg Quante are new parents and the creaters of Raising Them Naturally– a blog about preparing for and raising kids naturally! They share their challenges of parenting- and the things they’ve done to overcome them. They created this blog as a way for them to help others along the way.