Many pregnant women have traditional medical staff, such as nurses or doctors, to look after them during their pregnancy and childbirth. Recently, more and more women are beginning to hire doulas as an alternative healthcare provider to work with their medical team. While nurses and doctors take care of the medical issues, doulas provide something that they do not: emotional support as well as physical support.

Doulas who serve pregnant women who are in their third trimester are called birth doulas. In order to become a birth doula, most women become certified. You can find out more about where and how to receive training at A birth doula’s job is to recognize that the journey of pregnancy and labor is an emotional process as well as a physical process. They listen and address the needs and concerns of the mother. They also provide comfort through techniques such as massages. They develop a birth plan according to the mother’s wishes and provide the warmth of companionship and support. These holistic, supportive roles are just as important as the medical roles of nurses and doctors. While doulas cannot treat mothers through medicine, they can provide evidence-based information which will allow the mother to make informed decisions about her pregnancy and labor. In that regard, they are considered to be closer to midwives than nurses.

Doulas who continue to support the new mother and the new baby after her childbirth are called postpartum doulas. Doulas undergo postpartum doula training, along with a certification, in order to learn how to continue supporting the mother emotionally and physically in the weeks immediately after giving birth. Not only does this speed the mother’s recovery, it also helps transition her into her new role as a mom. Postpartum doulas are trained to provide information on breastfeeding techniques as well as newborn care such as bathing and diapering. Furthermore, they encourage the entire family, including older siblings and the father, to bond with the new baby.


In order to become a birth or postpartum doula, you will have to become certified through many of the certification organizations such as DONA or CAPPA. The curriculum includes reading training literature, attending workshops, and observing childbirths in order to get hands-on training. Most training courses take approximately half a year to complete in order for you to receive a certification and some provide online training. Once you become certified as a birth or postpartum doula, you can begin your career in providing holistic, supportive, and compassionate healthcare.

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