What is a Doula and Why Should I Have One at My Birth?

Paula James-Martinez

What is a Doula and Why Should I Have One at My Birth?

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Emotional Empowerment: A Shoulder to Lean On
  • Advocacy: Your Voice, Amplified
  • Education: Knowledge is Key
  • Physical Comfort: Soothing the Way to Birth
  • Partner Support: Strengthening Bonds, Together
  • Needed Facts about Doulas
  • The Bottom Line

0 min read


You may have heard about doulas and be unsure exactly what they do? Or perhaps have questions about why doula care can be useful for you? Well, having experienced doula care as a mother myself, led a documentary on birth in the US, and worked for years as the co-chair of a maternal health non-profit - I know a few things about the wonderful support they can offer and I thought I should share a few needed facts on why they can be so important in pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Pregnancy is a remarkable journey, filled with anticipation. Yet, amidst the excitement, it's natural for expectant parents most of us feel a little confused and even scared at times.

In a perfect world all mothers would be given extra support and guidance. Enter doulas: the often unsung heroes of the birth world, offering a blend of emotional nurturing, advocacy, and empowerment that can truly transform women’s experiences.

While medical providers like midwives, nurses or OBGYN’s are there to serve medical needs and keep track of women and babies health through birth and pregnancy. Doula’s are there just for the mother offering support for mind, body and spirit.

Emotional Empowerment: A Shoulder to Lean On

From the first flutter of movement to the final push, pregnancy is a rollercoaster of emotions. Doulas provide unwavering emotional support, offering a listening ear and a compassionate heart to navigate the highs and lows of the journey. Whether it's calming fears about childbirth or simply offering a comforting presence, doulas are there to uplift and empower expectant parents every step of the way.

Advocacy: Your Voice, Amplified

In the whirlwind of labor and delivery, it's easy for preferences to get lost in the shuffle of medical procedures and protocols. Doulas step in as advocates, ensuring that the mothers wishes are heard and respected. Whether advocating for alternative pain relief options or facilitating communication with healthcare providers, doulas empower parents to make informed decisions about their care, putting their needs front and center.

Education: Knowledge is Key

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. Doulas provide comprehensive education and information, empowering parents with the tools they need to navigate this journey with confidence. From explaining the stages of labor to discussing birthing options and interventions, doulas arm expectant parents with the knowledge they need to make informed choices, fostering a sense of empowerment and control.

Physical Comfort: Soothing the Way to Birth

Labor and delivery can be physically demanding and let's be honest - painful, but doulas are trained to comfort. From gentle massages to soothing breathing techniques, doulas offer a range of physical support strategies to ease discomfort and promote relaxation. By providing hands-on comfort and support, doulas contribute to a more positive and empowering birth experience.

Partner Support: Strengthening Bonds, Together

Doulas are often able to offer guidance and reassurance to partners too, empowering partners to play an active role in the birthing process, fostering a sense of connection and teamwork. By supporting partners in their journey to support their loved one, doulas help strengthen bonds and create  memories that will carry the family through the joys and challenges of parenthood.

Needed Facts about Doulas

The Bottom Line

Doulas weave together emotional support, advocacy, education, physical comfort, and partner involvement. Their presence can completely change the pregnancy experience, offering a holistic approach to care that empowers expectant parents as they embark on the journey of a lifetime. So if you're expecting, consider adding a doula to your support team— this mother at least couldn’t have done it without mine.

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a writer, filmmaker, and women's health advocate. She is the director and producer of the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternal health America. Sits on the boards of non-profit organization "The Mother Lovers" and "4Kira4Moms" to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis, and co-hosts the parenting podcast "Scruunchy."