The Value of A Labor Doula

Looking back over the births of my two precious little ones, I have treasured the presence of my doula, Amber. She was the perfect comforting support person that facilitated a peaceful atmosphere during my labor. She provided that reassuring presence with her knowledge and expertise in the birthing process. Her service to me has been the launching point of my desire to serve others in this way. I wanted to be able to encourage women that the birthing process is a beautiful and natural experience.

What is a Doula?


A doula is an ancient Greek word and literally means “mother’s slave”. Her aim is to accompany women in labor to help them have a more satisfying birth experience.


A doula provides you with emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, be your advocate in communicating with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions as they arise in labor. She is not taking the place of medical staff, but helps guide parents with balanced information and perspective. She can help you form your own birth plan and support you each step of the way.

She will not offer medical exams, but will help provide information so a couple can make informed decisions. She understands the birth plan, the desires of the mother and father, and seeks wholeheartedly to be an advocate for them. Her desire is that birth would be a beautiful experience for the family and that all would come away feeling the wonders of God’s design in the creation and birth of new life.

Wealth of comfort measures in her doula bag

A doula can provide reassurance and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help provide physical comfort through massage, labor positions, hydrotherapy, optimal fetal positioning, aromatherapy, acupressure, deep relaxation and visualization techniques. My doula was extremely skilled in providing just the right comfort measures (from back massages to the rebozo technique – an excellent excellent for correct positioning of babies) and position changes for every stage of my labor. She offered that quiet support that was not intrusive in the least. She was there to continually remind me to keep breathing deeply, taking long slow breaths, to stay on top of the contractions, and encourage me with the right words continually.

Does not replace Dad

A doula does not take the place of a husband or partner. She is one that helps provide the father with ideas to support the mother. She is one that offers reassurance, reminders, and tips that he might be most effective. A doula has most often been through labor and delivery herself and can thus relate to the pain of the mother, and help the mother’s spouse/partner understand possible alternatives, comfort measures that they can team up together in providing for the mother.

My husband specifically loved the presence of a doula at our births. He saw her as one who did not take his place in the least but provided him with the tools and reminders of how to serve me most effectively. She helped him be my #1 support!

Constant Support

Especially in a hospital setting, nurses and doctors will come and go, but a doula will stick with mother, father and baby through the whole labor and delivery. She will often be available to help with immediate breastfeeding after birth. Postpartum doulas are even available to hire after the birth to attend your needs at home and help you through the transition process. This is a huge asset especially if you do not have family in the area. It would be an excellent gift idea!

Benefits of Doula Use

Studies on labor support show that the benefits of doulas are tremendous!

  • C-sections reduced by 50%
  • Length of labor reduced by 25%
  • Oxytocin (induction) use reduced by 40%
  • Use of narcotics reduced by 30%
  • Forceps reduced by 30%
  • Epidurals reduced by 60%

Long-term benefits include:

  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Increased time spent with baby
  • Decreased postpartum depression

Doulas are independent and self-employed. I highly encourage you consider hiring a doula, especially if it is your first birth. They can be that knowledgeable support that is totally unique to even midwives.

To find a doula near you, visit Dona International or CAPPA.

Photo Credit

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

24 Responses to The Value of A Labor Doula

  1. Brook July 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    My mom was a doula for a time and loved it!

  2. Sheila May 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Being a doula is SUCH a priviledge! Thanks for posting this, very very informative and helpful for those who don’t know.

  3. Catherine May 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Thank you for such beautiful and encouraging blogs. I have always wanted to be a doula and I have been trying to find a good organization to go through that is faith-based. Do you know of any?

    • Catherine May 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Nevermind..I just saw you are taking training through CAPPA :)

  4. Anna May 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    I had both a doula and doula-in-training at my son’s birth. What a blessing they were! As new expectant parents, my husband and I were naturally nervous. My mom delivered via C-section, and she advised me to do what I could to avoid that process. So I hired a doula. My doula and doula-in-training were awesome at keeping my husband in the center of the labor support process, but they also helped him feel okay about leaving for a few minutes to get some rest or regroup mentally. They helped me prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for labor, birth and breastfeeding and also had lots of suggestions to get labor started once baby was overdue and induction was looming. They took pictures of the whole birth, and I now have a very special scrapbook to remember my son’s birthday. I recommend doulas to anyone who will listen. Worth their weight in gold, they are!


  5. Lauren May 23, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Yay for doulas! :) What an excellent resource for so many birthing couples. I loved your last post on letting go of fear and pain, by the way. I’ve had babies with meds and without, and there’s simply no comparison.

    But even for my first natural labor, when I mentioned getting a Doula to my husband, he declared he didn’t want to share that special time with anyone. ;) (And it’s true – my natural labors have been some of our sweetest times together in our marriage.) So instead we read some WONDERFUL books (I love “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon, even though the photos are unnecessarily gratuitous and I taped black construction paper over them before handing the book over to my hubby ;) ) and practiced at home together. He’s also a physician (pediatrician), so with his training and knowledge, and our collaborative preparatory efforts, he was both a fantastic coach and supportive ally for me in the delivery room. I know not everyone has the same kind of enthusiastic support from their husbands (or a hubby whose authority nurses will defer to, even when they don’t like what he has to say), and in those situations, Doulas are an invaluable resource. But Daddies make awesome doulas too. ;)

  6. Jen May 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    We had a doula attend our birth with our second baby! It was spur of the moment as I was on bedrest for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy since I was having contractions already at 32 weeks. One of our friends from church offered to attend our birth for free and she was AMAZING! Both my husband and I were so blessed to have her with us. We felt more confident, calm, and peaceful! I would recommend hiring a doula!!!!

  7. Sherrin May 22, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    I was very grateful to have a midwife I chose to be with me for both my births, including the first one at home. Thank you for your heart to encourage other women in relation to birthing naturally and trusting God. It was a huge privilege to have a Christian midwife and to be able to seek God throughout my first birth at home especially. We also prayed in hospital but were a bit more inhibited.

  8. Rachel May 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    I met Amber at the Vancouver Babywearing meeting, and she is awesome (judging by your birth picture in the previous post, she’s the same one!) We had hired a flake of a doula for our first baby (we actually told her not to come to the birth after she missed our meetings prior to birth and then she refused to give us back the down payment), but then we had an awesome one with our third baby (she was still in training so she was free). I would highly recommend doing your research before hiring one (word of mouth is likely the best way) and getting one if you can afford it. Hey, they cost much less than an epidural and we were able to avoid one with her help. We found the second one recommended through our chiropractor who is pro-au-natural.

  9. Sarah @littlesliceofmyarmywifelife May 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    I’m a labor doula and feel SO BLESSED to be able to do what I do! I am simply in awe at God’s work when a new baby is born and the entire birth process.

  10. Whitney May 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I am going to start training to become a doula this August and I’m thoroughly excited! I’m taking my training through Childbirth International. Does anyone have any suggestions on books to read, other training, etc…? Thanks!

    • Birth_Awakenings May 23, 2011 at 7:50 am #

      When I took my training I read the following:
      The Birth Partner- Penny Simkin
      Creating Your Birth Plan- Marsden Wagner
      Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering- Sarah J. Buckley MD**LOVE THIS BOOK!!
      Pregnancy and Childbirth Secrets- Gail J Dahl

      These were all great reads!
      Im also getting into Birthing From Within and I just ordered a HypnoBirthing book, so really just trying to take in all the information I can. When we are well educated, we can make good referalls, so Mom and baby can benefit as well!
      Best of Luck!

  11. Laura--The Sushi Snob May 20, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    If I give birth in a hospital for my first (not pregnant yet), I will definitely have a doula. I decided this quite some time ago when I found out the value of doulas.

  12. Sarah May 20, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    I am a birth doula in Central Massachusetts. I took toLabor training over a year ago and have attended 12 births which i am very thankful for! As a mother of 3 small children it is a balancing act but God has provided childcare when I need it and I have been blessed to add to my household income and work with some lovely families! I would encourage you to follow God’s direction and trust Him to work through you. As far as hiring a doula and paying out of pocket I think it is worth it. See if you can find a doula that has recently started and one that is closer to you. If her travel costs are lower she might be more apt to accept a lower cost. But remember doulas need to be paid for their services so some compensation it necessary. You can also find doulas in your area at

    • April May 20, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      Sarah, I think the correct web address is actually Thanks for providing another resource!

  13. Morgan May 20, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    @ Becky
    Many doulas will work with you on the price be it payments a discount or barter. Another route may be to contact Dona and find out the name of Doula in training. These women need 3 births for there certification and many would happily do it for free. I know I did. Good Luck!

  14. Jennifer Ott May 20, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    I am just starting to look into becoming a doula! There aren’t too many in my area, and I wish I had known about them before my last labor with my 4th baby! Unfortunately, he was born during a blizzard very quickly, and my doula didn’t make it. I am very excited to start this new journey while being apprehensive about fitting it in to our lives right now. The first class in our area is in one month…

    • Lindsay May 20, 2011 at 6:15 am #

      Yes, it is certainly important to evaluate timing. We have concluded that it really isn’t the right timing for myself to conclude all my training. I had my births lined up and they fell through, so I’m just trusting the Lord for the right timing to finish. My little ones are far more important in this season. In response to your email, I took my training through CAPPA, but would probably recommend DONA at this point, as it is more widely known and focused on doulas. I pursued CAPPA because I wanted dual certification, as my primary focus will be on childbirth education in the future. May the Lord give you wisdom!

  15. Becky May 20, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    After watching “The Business of Being Born” documentary, I was convinced to have a doula for my next baby, but my insurance won’t cover it :( . In your opinion, is it still worth using a doula even if you have to pay all the expenses yourself?

    • Lindsay May 20, 2011 at 6:16 am #

      Yes, doula’s are not traditionally covered by insurance, although that is in the process of changing as they become more widely known and recognized. I would say they are worth every penny to pay out of pocket, if you find someone you really love!

    • Erinn Streeter May 23, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      Many insurance companies are now reimbursing at least part of the cost of doula services. DONA trained doulas can help you file a claim by providing a HICFA with the appropriate information on it, which you would then send to your insurance company. Insurance providers consider the claim, then approve or reject it based on the scope of the insurance coverage being provided. If it’s rejected, you have the option of refiling the claim and submitting additional supporting documentation to show the purpose and benefit of the services rendered by your doula. Additional documentation examples: charting notes taken by your doula during pregnancy and/or labor; a letter from the attending care provider stating the purpose and benefit of doula services to the client; hospital charting notes, especially ones where examples of the doula’s comfort measures are mentioned; documentation from research studies explaining the benefits of doula care.

    • Birth_Awakenings May 23, 2011 at 7:54 am #

      Yes definitely, contact CAPPA or DONA and search doulas-in-training in your area, they will generally attend your birth for free as they need to attend 3 births as a part of their certification. I think it would be worth your while to look into it!

  16. Julie May 20, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    I LOVE this… I am a labor doula and wish more people knew this info..I love the birthing process and watching women grow thru it, thye become stronger than they ever thought they could. Please keep putting this info out there so more women can become informed..

    • Gloria @ Ahlan Baby! May 21, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      YES! I second this! This is a wonderful post with great insight into doula-ing. I’m a labor doula through DONA here in the Middle East and you wouldn’t believe how incredibly necessary doulas are here. And how few doulas there are to keep up with the growing demand! The previous comments are correct– part of a doula’s ethos includes a belief that every woman deserves a doula for her birth. If money is an issue then there are lots of doulas out there who are willing to work with you on a sliding scale or even for free.