Birth Doula Services
There are many reasons someone might work with a birth doula.
As doulas, we will help you feel supported, cared for, and prepared as you approach the birth of your little one. We look after your emotional journey, something no one else on your care team is focusing on. We provide in-person support during your labor, birth, and the first hour or two of bonding with your little one, supporting births in hospitals, birth centers, and at home.
During labor, our role is to be present with you, walking your journey of birth alongside you. We can also assist with non-clinical tips and tricks to aid labor progress, from comfort measures and maintaining a pain-coping mindset for labors without pain medication, physical and emotional support for people laboring with an epidural, emotional and informational preparation for cesarean births, and everything in between.
Our goal is to support you in your choices for birth. During our preparation together, we can point you toward resources and research to aid you in making informed decisions. At the same time, we also recognize that every family needs to make the decisions that are right for them.
No matter your choices for birth, we are here without judgment to walk alongside you as you bring your baby into your arms.
Birth Doula Packages
To help you decide if we're a good fit, we always offer an in-person consultation before you book a package so we can get to know each other.
Basic Birth Package: $1200
Includes continuous support during your labor and birth, plus:
1 prenatal visit with Megan & Marlee
1-year membership to Motherboard Birth to create your birth plan ($50 value)
Use of a TENS unit during labor ($100 value)
Access to our lending library
Attend Marlee’s monthly new parent support group for free
24/7 communication with your doulas
Attendance of labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum by Megan or Marlee
1 optional postpartum check-in visit with Megan & Marlee
1 optional lactation support visit with Marlee
Preparation Package: $1300+
Basic Birth Package PLUS:
birth & parenting classes of your choice with Megan & Marlee (semi-private classes with no more than 4 couples, held at Megan and Marlee’s home in Santa Ana)
Preparation Package pricing depends on how many classes you choose:
1 class: $1300
2 classes: $1400
3 classes: $1475
4 classes: $1550
Class options include Birth Basics, Decision-Making for Birth and Beyond, Comfort Measures & Labor Positions, and Bringing Baby Home.
For more information including upcoming class dates, see our Birth & Parenting Classes page.
Wraparound Package: $2200
Basic Birth Package PLUS:
All 4 birth & parenting classes we offer (semi-private classes with no more than 4 couples, held at Megan and Marlee’s home in Santa Ana)
5 postpartum doula visits with Marlee (including breastfeeding support)
1 hour-long in-home postpartum massage with our favorite (amazing!) massage therapist
1 postpartum follow-up visit with Marlee in baby’s first year (1-2 hours long and can be used for help preparing to return to work, introducing solids, addressing sleep regressions, developmentally appropriate activities, etc.)
A note about childbirth education classes
Taking classes with us (or taking classes period) is not required in order to work with us. But there are some circumstances in which we strongly recommend taking a class:
For parents preparing for their first birth, we strongly recommend participating in some form of classes to prepare for various aspects of labor, birth, and parenting a newborn. We offer semi-private classes (no more than 4 couples) and designed our Preparation Package above as a combination option so you can have your doulas as your childbirth educators as well! This helps us gain a deeper understanding of your background, your values, and your journey toward birth. We find that doing classes with our birth doula clients brings a whole new level of depth to our experience together!
For parents expecting a subsequent child who are planning a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or who would like to otherwise approach birth differently this time around, we highly recommend adding at least 1 childbirth preparation class with us. Our prenatal visit just won't be long enough for us to work through questions you may have about your first birth experience or work on some new tools to help you cope with this next labor experience. You may also consider a Birth Story Medicine session with Megan if you had a difficult or traumatic previous birth experience.
Investing time in preparing for your birth experience is one of the best ways to connect with yourselves, with each other, and with your baby. Spending this time with our doula clients makes our work together so much deeper!
To learn more about why it's important to take classes even if you're working with a doula, read our blog post: 6 Reasons You'll Delight Your Doula by Taking a Birth Class.
For parents who are birthing again and looking for extra support to prepare (but not exactly a childbirth class)
If you're having another baby, it's possible you want things to be a little (or a lot) different than last time around. Many times there is more to discuss and work on than we have time for in a prenatal visit, but not so much that you're actually looking for a class series to prepare for birth.
Our goals when working with parents birthing again are:
to help parents find healing from the previous birth experience(s) if needed, and
to establish really solid rapport, especially if parents had a less-than-stellar experience with a doula previously
The variations of the Preparation Package we put together (see above) don't always fit second-time (or more) parents' needs. Sometimes what works best is to have one prenatal visit, but make it a longer one - more like 2-3 hours instead of the 1-1.5 hours we normally do. This can give us extra time to cover the things we normally do, plus spending extra time working through your first birth experience(s) in a helpful way.
If you're interested in an in-between package like this, let us know. We're always happy to customize our packages to fit families' needs.
If you feel that you need more of a focus on healing from a difficult or traumatic birth experience, we highly recommend a Birth Story Medicine session in preparation for your upcoming birth.
What's Involved with Birth Doula Support?
When you hire us as your doulas, we are available to answer your questions and concerns by text, phone, and email through pregnancy and into your baby's first weeks. (For a list of resources and referrals we can offer, check out this blog post.)
We will be on-call 24/7 from 38 weeks of your pregnancy until baby arrives. (To learn more about what it means for us to be on call for you, check out this blog post.)
All of our birth doula support packages include 1 prenatal visit in your home. We will use this time to get to know one another, communicate about any updates (medical or otherwise), learn about your preparation for birth and postpartum, and learn about your family's values and goals. We will also discuss the logistics of doula support for your birth so you feel comfortable with how to contact us as labor begins. If you'd like, we can assist you in preparing a birth and/or postpartum plan (or review your preferences on Motherboard Birth, since all our clients receive free memberships to create a visual birth plan). If you haven't taken a childbirth preparation class, we can teach you a few pain-coping techniques. This visit is also a great time for you to get some questions answered! (Preview some of our favorite pregnancy resources here.) If you selected the Preparation Package, we will also see you prenatally for childbirth classes, where we will dive even deeper into these topics.
We will provide continuous labor support. After your birth, we will remain with you until you are settled to help initiate bonding and breastfeeding. Depending on the circumstances, we may stay between 30 minutes to 2 hours after baby arrives. To learn more about our role immediately after birth, especially if you're planning to birth in a hospital setting, check out our blog post: Little-Known Ways a Doula Can Help after Your Hospital Birth.
Our birth doula services also include a postpartum check-in visit. This typically takes place within your baby's first month or two. It's an opportunity for us to check in with you and provide support you as you transition into life with a newborn. We can discuss anything from newborn care to postpartum recovery to your birth experience. We can also identify opportunities for referrals if there are any issues that could use some extra attention and support. And of course, you can contact us for support anytime without waiting for this visit! We're always happy to offer support via text, email, or phone call if needed.
And finally, we're happy to offer all our clients a complimentary lactation counseling & infant feeding session with Marlee if the need arises. Her gentle guidance can help you overcome breastfeeding challenges, practice optimal bottle feeding techniques, learn your baby's hunger cues, help parents with soreness or engorgement, and so much more. You can learn more about Marlee's lactation & infant feeding support here.
Want to learn more? Check out these blog posts:
Benefits of a Doula for Dads and Partners
Read our blog post: 13 Powerful Ways Birth Doulas Support Partners during Labor
Doulas aren't just for the person giving birth! As doulas, we consider our support role to include supporting dads and partners too. Partners often feel social pressure to perform as a "birth coach," even though it may be their first experience with birth. As doulas, we can offer suggestions for things you can do to make the birthing person more comfortable and help them feel supported during labor. (If you’re thinking, “My partner will be my doula,” read this.)
Your love for your partner and our expertise in birth make us a wonderful team to surround a birthing person with love and support.
At no time will we "take over" your role during birth against your wishes. We are here to work with and for you and your birthing partner, and we love to see well-supported parents working together to meet their baby. We can provide breaks to dads and partners during long labors and offer comforting reassurance and guidance to both parents during birth.
Like the pregnant person, dads and partners often have many questions about the process of labor and birth, as well as about caring for a newborn. We will treat your questions and concerns just as seriously as we do those of the person who is actually giving birth - we are your doula too!
What our clients say
“When all of my mom friends urged us to work with a doula for the pregnancy and birth of our first baby, I could never have imagined the support -- technical and emotional -- that we would find with Megan and Marlee. I ended up having quite a difficult labor experience, finding out upon being admitted to the hospital that, in addition to being a week past my due date, having had 12 hours of painful prodromal labor two days before, and the baby's head pushing against my spine, that I also had the flu. The extra pain produced by the fever, back labor and high doses of pitocin became unbearable and I am not sure we could have made it through without Marlee's incredible coaching.
The physical pain of that portion of the labor, however, was nothing at all in comparison with the emotional anguish of being told that, because I was still feverish, I would have to be separated from my baby for an undetermined amount of time after birth. This separation was accompanied by a utter lack of compassion and incompetency by the hospital mother-baby unit staff. Again, if were not for Marlee's beautiful emotional support and advocacy for me, my husband, and my baby, the separation would have been that much more painful and most likely more prolonged. Her support was so unconditional that shortly after going home after my long birth, she turned around and came right back (it was her birthday, by the way) to teach me how to manually express colostrum to get to my newborn. She helped us advocate for our family, as the nurses were going to give my son formula without my permission (and continued to commit a cacophony of errors about which I would have to write an essay-length piece to get into the details).
As any first-time parent knows, there is nothing more frightening than those first few days out of the hospital (and I imagine far beyond that, but we haven't gotten there yet), when you return home to suddenly find yourself responsible for a delicate human life. Marlee and Megan have been uncompromising in their willingness to answer all our questions, big and small, at all hours of the day -- about everything from breastfeeding to safe sleeping to postpartum depression. At our first postnatal visit Marlee spent two hours with us going over the details of various breastfeeding techniques, car seat safety, and so much more. We created a WhatsApp group with me, my husband, Marlee, and Megan through which they have made themselves available day and night to answer all our questions with zero judgment, only evidence-based answers, and a degree of patience and compassion to which I can only aspire. They keep telling me to not apologize for bombarding them with question after question, but I keep doing it because I can't find a sufficient way to show to them just how grateful I am that they have become part of this equal parts terrifying and beautiful experience. The comfort their support has afforded us in these anxiety-ridden days is simply invaluable.
My husband and I are both PhD students and make very little money. Honestly, working with a doula was an expense that was somewhat out of our budget but we went forward with it because of the insistence of my friends with children. We interviewed several doulas, but the second Marlee and Megan left our house after our introductory meeting my husband and I didn't even have to say a word to communicate to each other that we knew they were the ones. We sent them an email the following day, and did what we could to cut our baby budget elsewhere and we were no worse the wear. We will never regret passing over the $800 stroller for a second-hand one, but we would have deeply regretted not having Megan and Marlee in our lives. Working with them has simply been the best thing we could have done for ourselves and our baby, and in a time of such insecurity and doubt it is one decision of which we are entirely sure. We will forever be grateful to Megan and Marlee for making the birth of our son the most wonderful experience of our lives.”
- Elizabeth, Irvine
“We LOVED working with Megan & Marlee! We took their classes and they were our doulas. My husband was super supportive through everything and he was on board for us to get a doula, but I think he didn't exactly know what it all entailed. I just knew we would need the extra support during the pregnancy and labor/delivery.
You get TWO people who love birth, babies and this whole world
They respond to questions within the same day
Always respond with really detailed answered and explanations
Really great at explaining things so anyone (especially someone who hasn't been pregnant before) can understand
Their classes are hands-on and helpful to just think/talk through the different aspects of pregnancy, labor & postpartum
Contract and payment is all online and easy
It was awesome to have someone to talk through about different decisions before labor and DURING labor (when you're not always able to think through things)
They give both sides of an issue, idea, process to help you make the best decision for you
Meetings were casual, informative and really easy/comfortable chatting with them
Even though just one person comes to the labor, I was so comfortable with both Megan & Marlee that it didn't matter who came to the labor/delivery
No judgments on whatever you decide to do
Really can't think of anything (and I usually can...)
It’s great to have two awesome ladies on your side to help you think of things and figure out what is best for you, your family and situation. Just super supportive and so great to work with!”
- Jayne, Brea
"TLDR: HIRE THEM. They are worth every penny.
Megan and Marlee were my doulas for my first birth. I wasn't exceptionally nervous for my birth but I really wanted a doula present to provide support for me and my husband. I met with a few other doulas before settling on them. The idea of having two doulas who we'd get to know prior to my birth, who could tag team the event should it turn out in a long drawn-out affair, appealed to me. They also aren't judgmental about what kind of birth you want. Some doulas are biased toward unmedicated birth and if you go any other route they aren't really open to it. Megan and Marlee are not like that at all. They really listen to what YOU want, and work to help you achieve that. They don't have an agenda.
We got a package that included pre-birth classes, labor support, and post-birth support. The pre-birth sessions were helpful to get my husband and I on the same page about what to expect.
My birth experience was really intense. I ended up having to be induced, and then couldn't get an epidural because my platelets were mysteriously low, AND I had back labor. So I was in excruciating awful pain that never stopped. Megan was there for the first chunk of my labor when I was in a bad place mentally. She really helped me work through the pain and soldier through it. Marlee came in to help too. They both had so many tricks up their sleeves of different things to try to help me cope with the pain.
They were also so helpful for my husband because he understandably was upset seeing me suffer so much and not being able to help. Because Megan and Marlee were there, he was able to step out of the room for breathers and to eat meals. Once my water broke and the back labor kicked in and it was clear how painful it would be, he got very overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. It was really great having Megan and Marlee there to suggest different things he could do to help me.
Marlee came to my home post birth and helped me with breastfeeding, which was really helpful as well. I peppered them with a bazillion questions the first few weeks after birth and they always gave me great information.
I will be calling them the minute I get pregnant again to lock them down for my next birth."
- Nichole, Santa Ana
“Megan and Marlee are such a blessing. I really can't imagine what I would have done without them during the pregnancy and birth of my second child. They are so compassionate, knowledgeable, caring, funny, just all around amazing.
My first delivery was a very traumatic experience and since my husband is out of town I decided to hire a doula. Wow, I can't believe how lucky I was to find these lovely ladies! It's not just one doula, it's two! They have soooooo many bits of advice and tricks up their sleeves it's not even funny.
Although my second delivery did not turn out *exactly* as planned (I was trying for a VBAC), I really had a wonderful experience with Marlee and Megan from start to finish. I feel that going into labor and laboring with them really made me feel 1,000 times better post partum, despite the circumstances of my own labor. I am also so relieved to have post partum support. I love love love love Megan and Marlee. Just hire them - you will not be disappointed. These ladies are top notch.
Are you trying for an unmediated birth? Hire them. I did try for unmedicated and I labored for several hours in so much pain but was able to get through with their help.
Are you going to be medicated? Hire them. Are you going to have a c section? Hire them for the awesome prenatal and post partum support! They don't judge at all, that's what's so awesome about them. Your birth experience is your own and every birth is different.
On a side note: my OBGYN who doesn't even really like doulas told me days after delivery that she really really liked Megan and Marlee and if anyone asked her for a doula she would be recommending them. I can't agree more. They are just great!!! I'm so glad I worked with them and I will definitely be hiring them again if/when we decide to have another baby in the next few years.”
- Lydia, Irvine
"Having the peace of mind pre and during labor that comes with having an experienced advocate in your court is priceless. Additionally, the postpartum doula support was critical during our first days at home. Our level of anxiety was significantly reduced thanks to you both.
Everything would have been SO much more difficult without your support. Your knowledge, networks, compassion, and support are truly exceptional! We felt comfortable with you both right away.
Your focus on us as parents and teaching us how to handle situations and our child was incredibly helpful. You helped to build the foundation of tools we need to care for our child (and ourselves). Both of you were fantastic listeners and observers and you really were able to support us in this journey.
Thank you both for everything!!"
- Maria & Jim, Aliso Viejo
“Words cannot express how grateful we are to have had you by our side during Luna’s birth! Your guidance, support, and positivity made us feel so safe and comfortable during some rather uncomfortable hours. The memories that you were able to help us create and capture will be cherished forever. We can’t imagine a better experience, and you were both so instrumental in making it so special. You went so above and beyond the call of duty and we are so lucky to have found you."
- Susie & Jon, Aliso Viejo
"Having a baby has been the most earth shattering, humbling, and overwhelming experience in our lives. Megan and Marlee’s presence throughout was always comforting, calming, and reassuring.
Despite reading books and articles, watching videos and even taking birthing classes, we weren’t really ready to have our baby. Thankfully, Megan and Marlee were ready for us. With their knowledge, expertise, and emotional support, they helped us create a birth plan that was right for us.
During the 30 hours of labor, they attended to my every need, and acted as constant advocates for my husband, for me, and for our baby. They rubbed my back during every contraction and helped me relax and ease tension in my muscles. They tirelessly supported us all day and through the night. When our daughter finally came into the world, we felt as though our joy and triumph was theirs as well.
After the birth of our little one, they gave us a basket of postpartum must-haves and they also answered all of my many, many questions.
To us, they were invaluable."
- Sarah, Long Beach
"Megan and Marlee’s birth services were absolutely invaluable. Not only were they in our home providing advice and care before the arrival of our son, but they stayed the entire 24 hours or more that I was in labor. They were either massaging me, hanging out with our parents and answering their questions, helping me breathe through contractions, or supporting my husband both days we were in the hospital. It was so nice not having to give our family constant updates when I was in such pain - Megan and Marlee handled our families with such care and understanding.
Megan and Marlee helped me make rational decisions when I was in pain and reminded me of my birth plan. It felt like they were part of my family that was protecting us during this intense hospital experience.
It was such peace of mind having people at the hospital to help me ask questions I felt too embarrassed to ask my doctor or nurse. Most of all, it really helped my husband to feel calmer so that he was able to be “in the moment” rather than stressed and panicky.
Megan and Marlee are so thoughtful and caring and still answer any questions I have (5 months postpartum!). They always brought helpful short handouts with parenting advice and tips and tricks for life with a newborn. They even made a house visit after baby was born and brought the sweetest little gift basket and delicious homemade muffins. They are such personable and caring people!
Hiring Megan and Marlee as doulas was a very worthwhile expense. Before the birth I often wondered if doulas were even necessary - what if I ended up having a cesarean? Well, I did end up with a c-section, and I still wouldn’t have had it any other way! They made me feel stronger and happier while giving birth, and I felt like a tough woman that could accomplish this wonderful but trying task!"
- Vanessa, Orange
"Megan and Marlee brought me calmness, peace, a sense of not feeling alone, and understood that what I was feeling was ok. I so appreciated their encouragement and reliability, and that they gave me options for what I could do next during labor.
Before working with Megan and Marlee, I feared that hiring a doula team would be a waste of time since my husband could be a “doula” for me. It was not a waste at all! Having a doula that hasn’t known me for years gave great perspective and encouragement that helped me in a way my husband couldn’t.
What stands out most about my experience with Marlee and Megan is their friendliness and kindness! They are warm and inviting, and didn’t make me feel pressured into doing anything.
I wish I had Megan and Marlee there during my first birth because I know my experience would have been so much better. There can be so many negative emotions and thoughts with pregnancy and labor because a lot can happen differently than planned… having Megan and Marlee helped my self-esteem. Even though I ended up having a c-section due to unexpected issues, I’m glad they were always there for me. I don’t have any regrets about my birth experience this time around."
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my insurance pay for a birth doula?
Unfortunately, the short answer is probably not.
As of now, there are no universal insurance codes for doulas specifically because we are not medical providers. Although, there may be a specific code within your insurance company, so we encourage you to call and ask if they will cover birth doula fees. (While you're on the phone with your insurance company, it would also be a good idea to find out if they will cover childbirth education fees, postpartum doula in-home support, and/or lactation support fees.)
If it turns out your insurance company DOES reimburse for doula support, you'll want to ask about the percentage or specifics of that coverage.
Another way to be reimbursed for birth doula support (more reliably than through health insurance) is through a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). It's not the same as services being covered by an insurance company, but those pre-tax dollars can be allocated to reimbursement for doula support if your particular FSA or HSA administrator allows for that coverage.
For clients planning to submit for reimbursement to their FSA or HSA, we have a special receipt we can give you that includes our National Provider Identifier (NPI) - just let us know that's something you need, and we'll get it to you after the completion of our contract.
So... what does a doula actually DO during birth?
We like to say that our role changes at every birth. Each family's needs are different, and each birth takes its own path. Really the only commonality that truly applies to all births we've attended is that our role is to hold space. There has been a lot of buzz around that phrase within the birth community. To us, holding space means being fully present for you in your birthing experience, no matter what is going on. Whether you're birthing at home, in a birth center, or at a hospital, we will be present and mindful during the experience, ready to assist if needed.
Sometimes births require a lot from us physically - hands-on comfort measures (massage, rebozo work, or counter pressure). Some birthing parents don't want much hands-on touch during their labor, but have lots of questions about the process, any procedures that might come up, or what their baby might be feeling during labor. Sometimes we spend a lot of time during labor helping partners to feel comfortable providing hands-on support themselves, acting as more of a labor coach. And sometimes, verbal encouragement (including birth affirmations) can be just the thing someone needs from us.
Some forms of labor support involve running errands, braiding hair, entertaining older children, setting up a new place for the birthing person to labor for a while, making the laboring room feel comfortable and safe, helping dads and partners with some ideas for comfort measures if they'd like, and so much more. Throughout any of those activities, we are very "tuned in" to the birthing person, remaining attentive to their needs the entire time.
If you have any additional loved ones at your birth, we can help in several ways: 1) helping them understand what's going on, 2) suggesting things they might be able to do to help (if you and they are agreeable, of course!), and 3) helping you manage the visitors at your birth.
In addition to holding space, another key responsibility we have is to help you stay in a "coping mindset" as much as possible. Yes, most doulas bring a bag with some tricks of the trade to births, but... none of them are magical! The most important thing when dealing with the intensity of labor and birth (or any other intense experience, for that matter) is for the people involved to keep focused on the present moment, as much as possible.
Our goal when working with you leading up to your birth will be to understand where you're coming from - your values, goals, and things that are important to you - so we can help to keep YOU front and center during your birth experience as much as possible. If any unexpected or unwished for events happen during your labor, we will be there to help you find the next best thing and move forward. When parents have the support they need so they can do what needs to be done to birth their baby, they often remark that even though there may have been challenges, nothing felt like too much.
In a way, we won't be able to answer the question "what does a doula do during birth" until we've been to your birth!
If you want to learn more about our approach as doulas, take a look at our blog post, The 3 Most Important Aspects of Our Approach as Doulas.
Will you both be at my birth?
We work as a team to provide the best care we can for our clients, which means that normally only one of us is at a birth at any given time in case we have back-to-back labors. In the case of a longer labor, one of us may relieve the other so that you always have a well-rested doula at your side. If neither of us are available due to extenuating circumstances (very rare!), one of the other doulas on our team will join you.
As your birth doulas, we will both attend your prenatal and postpartum visits and co-teach any childbirth education sessions you choose (except in situations where one of us is with a laboring client).
I'm interested in a certain birth method. Will you support me?
Yes! We have experience supporting parents who are birthing with The Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, and more. Our approach is fully supportive of your choices in birth, including various childbirth preparation methods. While we don't teach classes in all of these different methods, we are certainly happy to support your use of these tools during labor.
I've heard that doulas are just for people who want a home birth or natural birth.
This is a common myth about doulas! Nearly 90% of our clients are planning to give birth in a hospital setting.
A doula is a wonderful addition to a birth team, no matter the type of birth you desire. If you are birthing in a hospital, we can help you navigate the medical environment so you feel more comfortable. Feeling comfortable in your environment is very important for birth, especially when it comes to decisions that need to be made. Many parents find that having someone there who has been through births before is very comforting. We can help you decipher information from your care providers, prompt you to ask any questions you may have about care for you or your baby, and assist in making your wishes known to your care team.
We are honored to support birth of all kinds, including:
Birth at home
Birth at a birth center
Unmedicated birth at a hospital
Hospital birth with epidural or other pain medication
Induced birth in a hospital
No matter how you envision your birth, a doula can support you emotionally throughout your pregnancy and birth, assisting you with information and encouragement along the way.
I'm worried a doula will "take over" for my partner.
Doulas work WITH dads and partners, we don't replace them. Many women and their partners find that simply having that reassuring presence in the room allows them to relax a bit more and work together to bring their baby into the world.
As doulas, we are committed to supporting dads and partners as they participate in the birth process to the extent that they are comfortable doing so. We love to see a birthing women's loved ones providing hands-on support if they choose, and we're full of tips and tricks to help dads and partners (and even older children) provide comfort and encouragement!
We love this quote from a respected doula, childbirth educator, and author:
“While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate and caring staff give the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.”
— Penny Simkin, P.T.
If you want the support of a doula but you or your partner have concerns about the doula's role at your birth, we suggest interviewing several doulas, expressing your concern, and allowing the doula to explain the way she views her role. Every doula is different, we encourage families to find the right match for them.
What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?
You might want to read our blog post about the differences between doulas and midwives.
A midwife is a medical professional with years of training who ensures the safety of both mothers and babies during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. They provide prenatal and postpartum care, and can provide healthcare throughout life, providing routine reproductive care. The role of a midwife is similar to that of an OBGYN, although midwives specialize in natural birthing methods (they are not surgeons) and follow the midwifery model of care.
Doulas are not medical professionals. A birth doula provides emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period, focusing on the physical comfort and emotional security of the laboring woman and her partner. A postpartum doula provides practical and emotional care to families after their baby is born, generally from birth through 12 weeks of the baby's life (a period sometimes called the "fourth trimester"). Doulas act as a comforting, encouraging, and knowledgeable presence to help women and their partners or other support people during this sensitive time. She can provide information and will support your right to informed decision-making, respecting and supporting you in whatever choices you make regarding your birth and the care of your baby.
Most doulas operate under some sort of formalized "scope/code of practice." If you have specific questions about the role and limitations of a doula, we encourage you to ask them for a copy of the scope of practice she uses to define their services (ours can be found here).
What does "doula" mean?
The word doula ("doo-luh") originates from a Greek word meaning "a woman who serves." In 1969, anthropologist Dana Raphael, Ph.D. published an article in the scholarly journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine in which she used the word doula to refer to women supporting other women through the journey of childbirth and early motherhood. She later went on to describe a doula as someone who "mothers the mother."
Nearly 50 years later, we would rephrase Dr. Raphael's idea of a doula as “a person who nurtures the family." The specific definition of what doulas do continues to be debated within the community of birth professionals (you'll probably get a different definition of a doula from each doula you ask!), but underlying all of those different ideas is a deep desire to support families through pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood with compassion and understanding.
As doulas, we love to support expecting people and their partners, families, children, and communities by providing a compassionate, experienced, and encouraging presence during the childbearing years.