A doula is trained to give continuous, one-to-one support to women in labor. She provides non-medical physical and emotional care to the birthing mother, and may also lend a hand with communications between the mother, her family, and the hospital staff.
A doula's expertise is in offering comfort and reassurance. Her presence helps a laboring woman feel safe and confident throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period.
A doula provides comfort measures such as relaxation, breathing, massage. She also offers suggestions for positioning that not only makes labor more comfortable but helps the baby move into the best position for birth All this means that the mother's partner can play an active support role with more confidence, too.
A doula stays with a birthing woman continuously, no matter how long it takes and regardless of what pain medications are used, the type of delivery, or whether or not complications develop.
While nurses, doctors, and midwives change shifts and must come and go to attend other patients, a doula remains by the side of a laboring woman and her family until her baby is born.
A doula does not provide clinical care or assessments. Nor does she replace the mother's partner, or other friends or family members she may choose to have present for the birth. In fact, the doula helps take care of them, too!