The Benefits of Working with a Doula

A doula, also known as a birth companion, is a trained professional in childbirth. The word doula comes from the Greek meaning “a woman who serves” or “handmaiden.” Doulas can provide educational, physical and emotional support to an expectant mother and her family during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Knowledge eases anxiety, while increasing the satisfaction of the birth process. A doula is not a replacement for your partner, but a trustworthy, educated, prepared, mentor and coach.

Doulas may provide massage, positioning and advocacy for the mother-to-be. We can offer different massage techniques such as massaging the mom’s neck, shoulders, hips and back. Many women even find comfort just having their hands and arms massaged. We want to show mothers the different laboring positions that can make labor easier. Maybe laying on her back isn’t the most comfortable position. We might recommend using a squat bar if available, or resting on her hands and knees. We may recommend she lay on her side. During positioning, doulas will often bring in the partner and show him or her how to help massage or support mom.  A laboring woman might want to use a medicine ball or a peanut ball for extra support. As a doula, we may have birthing support equipment for you, or advocate for the use of equipment provided by the hospital. As long as you and the baby are safe, we can promote whatever it may be to make labor a little easier for you.

In my experience as a doula, I cherish the relationship formed between a doula, the expecting mother and her family. Mothers put their trust in us as doulas. We are there to help the mother feel empowered. This is done by reassuring women they are able and strong. As women supporting other women, we want to emphasize that you have the choice and the right to do whatever you want during your labor experience, as long as it is safe for you and baby. If you want to have a natural birth with no medications, great. If not, that is perfectly fine too. Your body was made to give birth and although it may not seem like it sometimes, your body is doing exactly what it was made to do. We want you to recognize that birth is an amazing and positive experience. We want to motivate you and let you know that everything you are doing and feeling in that moment is for one reason:to give birth to your healthy baby.

As a doula, we are not there to speak for you and your family. We are not there to make any decisions for you or judge you in any way. We are there to encourage you to ask questions and discuss any concerns with your provider so you feel enlightened and knowledgeable during your labor and delivery. We want you to feel comfortable with the team that is going to help deliver your baby. We all want the same outcome, and that is for you to have a healthy and happy birth experience.

Doulas are not covered by insurance. Most doulas charge a fee, but are definitely worth the cost, if at all possible for your family. Some of the benefits seen when there is doula support include less complications, lower cesarean birth rates, a shorter labor and higher breastfeeding rates. Women are also less likely to use pain medications while a doula is present during her labor and delivery. Lovelace Labor of Love will send a list of local doulas if you are interested. For more information, call Labor of Love at 505.727.7677 or email them at

This blog submitted by Jamie Vigil, student doula and intern for Lovelace Labor of Love. Contributions made by Catherine Roth, Certified Community Health Worker for Lovelace Labor of Love, Darlene Lundquist RN and LaKendra Myers, RN.