A doula’s main role is to help pregnant women feel confident about giving birth.
A doula does this by supporting pregnant women with information and practical and emotional care during pregnancy and birth. Doulas often continue caring for new parents and their babies in the first few weeks after birth.
Doulas aren’t trained in clinical care. This means they don’t order or interpret medical tests or scans, diagnose medical conditions or give medical advice. Doulas work alongside your obstetrician, if you have one, and/or a midwife at the birth. It’s a good idea to let your obstetrician or midwife know if a doula is part of your pregnancy care team.
What a doula does
During pregnancy, a doula might:
- give you information, including information about your pregnancy and birth options
- help you create a birth plan
- talk about the experiences that might affect your birth experience, including previous births
- help you identify your postnatal needs.
During labour and birth, a doula might:
- suggest positions, movements and changes that help ease pain during labour
- guide your breathing and help you relax
- offer you massage, hot packs, aromatherapy and other things to comfort you
- create the birthing environment you want
- help remove distractions
- reassure and encourage you, and talk you through emotions during labour
- help you communicate your birth plan to the midwives and doctors caring for you
- support and guide your partner or birth support person, if you have one.
After the birth, a doula might:
- support you emotionally and build your confidence with your new baby
- give you sleep and settling suggestions
- help you learn about breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
You can talk with the doula about exactly how you’d like them to be involved in your pregnancy, birth and postnatal care. Many doulas offer various services, or you can work with your doula to create a service that suits your individual needs. Some women hire a doula just for after the birth.
Some doulas offer services via telehealth.
Choosing a doula
You arrange and pay for a doula yourself, if you want to have one.
Before choosing a doula, it’s a good idea to find out about a doula’s experience and training. There are no specific qualifications for working as a doula, but many doulas do training in professional birth and postnatal support. And some doulas are qualified in other therapies like massage, yoga or acupuncture.
Look for a doula with a working with children check. It’s also a good idea to find out whether the doula has a code of conduct or ethics. Doulas usually offer an obligation-free interview so you can find out whether you’ll feel comfortable with them.
It’s a good idea to have some questions ready to ask at the interview. For example:
- Where have you trained?
- Why did you want to become a doula?
- What support can you offer if my baby comes early?
- Can I call you if I feel worried about my baby or myself?
- Can I call you when I think I’m in labour?
To choose a doula, visit:
- Find a Doula
- Australian Doula College, or call the College on (02) 8036 5580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Doula Directory Australia.
Doula services vary in cost, depending on how experienced and well trained doulas are. You can contact local doula services to find out more. Medicare and private health insurance in Australia don’t cover doula services.