What Makes Birth With a Doula So Different?


If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

~ John H. Kennell, MD

My name is Kate, and I love doulas.

I have been an L&D (Labor and Delivery) Nurse for the past 7 years. If there is one birth intervention that I could recommend to every single pregnant woman I meet, it would be TO HIRE A DOULA.

Doulas are Evidence-Based Practice.

Research shows that women giving birth with the presence of a doula:

  • are less likely to need epidural anesthesia
  • are less likely to need pain medication
  • are less likely to need a vacuum- or forceps-assisted delivery
  • are less likely to need a C-Section
  • are less likely to have a baby with a low 5-minute apgar score
  • are more likely to have a SHORTER labor

Oh my goodness! Are you sold yet? Now that I’ve appealed to your mind, let me move on to your HEART.


Reason # 1: You’ll be Prepared (as Possible) for Childbirth

Doulas understand that birth is a wild ride, and that knowledge is power. They will meet with you at the end of pregnancy to talk and explore and dream about birth. They will offer or refer you towards childbirth classes that not only teach you about labor and birth, but begin to open your mind about the importance of the MIND-SPIRIT-BODY connection. (Wait a second, those things are connected?!?)

Not all classes are made equally. I highly recommend a birthing class OUTSIDE of a hospital, specifically designed for mothers planning natural (unmedicated) childbirth.

Read: I’m Pregnant! Now What?


{Photo by Three Plus Photography / Doula Lorel Hartley – Nurturing Notions}

Reason # 2: She’ll Help You Remember That Your Body Knows How to Give Birth

“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

                  ~ Ina May Gaskin

Reason # 3: You’ll Wait Longer to Go to the Hospital, or You Won’t Go at All

Doulas are early labor experts. The sensations of early labor (0-6cm) can be very intense, and this stage of labor can sometimes last several days or even weeks. Doulas will come to your home throughout this process and teach you relaxation and pain relief techniques. You will be able to use these techniques throughout labor, and become skilled at them as labor gets more intense.

Doulas are gifted at labor support for out-of-hospital births, too. Most great birth center and home birth midwives highly recommend (or require) that all their first-time moms hire a doula.

Arriving at the hospital in a more advanced stage of labor will prevent unnecessary interventions, such as artificial rupture of membranes (breaking your bag of waters), use of labor induction agents (cytotec, cervidil and Pitocin), and the need for pain medications or epidural anesthesia.


Reason # 4: You’ll Stay Out of Bed

A good doula will not let you labor in bed. She will get you up and walking (even in active labor!!), lunging, squatting, rocking, dangling and in hands and knees. Frequent changes in position are essential for helping labor progress, especially during a long labor or labor with baby in an OP position (occiput posterior).

Birth Massage ChartReason # 5: You’ll have a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Life Coach All-In-One

Double-hip squeeze, acupressure, shaking the apple tree … she’s got it down. She is comfortable with naked, pregnant bodies and she will teach you to be comfortable with yours. (She’ll even teach your partner how to shake those apples, too!)


A doula is familiar with the physiology of labor (the “cardinal movements”) in a way that even many OBs and L&D nurses aren’t. She will help you keep moving to help shimmy that baby down and out (and shorten your labor, yesssss)!

When you hit a wall and tell her “I CAN’T DO THIS!” she will hold your shoulders, look into your eyes and remind you “Yes. You. Can.”

Pregnant women are very sensitive to positive language, and doulas are well-versed in the power of birth affirmations.


Reason # 6: Your Birthing Room will Feel like a Day Spa

Candles, music, flowers, aromatherapy … oh my. I can always tell if a great doula is around as soon as I walk into my patient’s labor room. The lights are low, the peaceful music is on, and the clary sage is diffusing.

A doula is an expert at creating a relaxing environment for a laboring woman and her partner. I believe that this kind of environment also relaxes the nurses, midwives and doctors … allowing them to “slow down and tune in” to a birthing woman’s needs.

{Read about Essential Oils for Birth}


Reason # 8: She Don’t Know You

A woman typically meets and hires a doula in late pregnancy. Research shows that doulas are better at supporting women through labor (and the benefits are greatest) when:

1) A doula is a skilled attendant not employed by a hospital, and …

2) A woman is not related to or has an otherwise personal relationship with the doula.


Labor and birth is an incredibly transformative time for a woman, and the fact that a doula only knows the woman as WHO SHE IS, HERE & NOW means that the laboring woman can feel free from judgment or someone else’s expectations of her. All great family relationships (and friendships) have history … and that can sometimes get in the way of a healthy labor process.


Reason # 9: Regardless of How You Birth, She Will Make Your Birth Better

Whether you give birth in water or by C-Section, a doula can make your birth better. Even if all your birth plans go out the window (which they probably will), a doula is a loving, familiar presence that will calm you and help you tune-in to your heart. I even recommend doulas for planned C-Section births.


 Reason # 10: She Believes in You, and She’ll Help You Remember To Believe in Yourself

Your baby’s birth is only one day in your life as a woman. But your experience of giving birth to your baby — if you are loved, supported, and honored throughout the process — will strengthen and empower you for the rest of your life. IN EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE.


heart-icon-614x460Love, Kate

One thought on “What Makes Birth With a Doula So Different?

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Wrap Up May 27 | Andrea Lythgoe Doula Salt Lake City Utah

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