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What is a doula? 


Doula; a word from ancient greek origin that means “ a woman who serves”. While women have been helping women through the birth process since the beginning of time, it wasn’t until this last century that this crucial role was given a name. In a 1969 study, medical anthropologist Dana Raphael coined the term “Doula”, which she used to describe a female attendant whose role of mothering the mother with psychological encouragement and physical assistance during labor and childbirth was often associated with successful breastfeeding.


Since then, the term “doula” commonly refers to someone who is a trained and experienced professional that provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or someone who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life.

  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor.

  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth.

  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor.

  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions.

  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers.

  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience.

  • Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level.

  • Offers education, companionship and non-judgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester.

  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying.

  • Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary.



Research shows that the continuous labor support of a birth doula and the help of a postpartum doula has clear benefits for families, during childbirth and the postpartum period. And Blooming Tree Birth is here to help you explore those benefits that a doula can bring to your birth experience and unique family.

  • Increase self-esteem and self confidence (1,4)

  • Decrease risk of dissatisfaction of birth experience (2)





  • Decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief (1)

  • Decrease in labor anxiety (1)

  • Increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth (2)

  • Decrease in the use of Pitocin (2)

  • Shorter labors (2)

  • Reduction in use of forceps delivery (2)

  • Decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery (2)

  • Decrease in the risk of C-section (2)

  • Less discomfort after childbirth (1)

  • Increase interest and interaction with newborn (1)

  • Increase in breastfeeding success (1)

  • Increase with satisfaction of partner after childbirth (3)

  • Decrease in risk of postpartum depression (3)

(1) Companionship to modify the clinical birth environment: effects on progress and perceptions of labour, and breastfeeding.

Hofmeyr GJ, Nikodem VC, Wolman WL, Chalmers BE, Kramer T.

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1991 Aug;98(8):756-64.


(2) Continuous support for women during childbirth.

Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD003766. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub4. Review.

(3) Postpartum depression and companionship in the clinical birth environment: a randomized, controlled study.

Wolman WL, Chalmers B, Hofmeyr GJ, Nikodem VC.

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993 May;168(5):1388-93.

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