If the Doula Disappeared…No One Would

Sep 5, 2013 by

Shut the door

Cover every toe with the blanket

Make sure the curtains overlap

Persevere until we find just the right spot

Remind you to ask questions

Repeat what was said to you during a contraction

Move the yukky towels from your sight and smell right away

Shut the door again

Restart the playlist

Work with your nurse, helping him or her to get to know you

Repeat your visualization with each contraction

Be calm

Be the extra pair of hands

Fetch anything you wanted

Anticipate what you need

Keep a catalog in their head of what makes you feel better

Have your comfort and well being as the #1 priority

Make sure your loved ones are informed

Know how to interpret your medical provider’s concerns in language a tired laboring brain can understand

Shut the door again

Give your partner a break and remind him or her its okay to eat

Keep the focus on you

Remind you that you are having a baby

Help the nurse

Tape your photos in the room

Understand medical procedures and explain what you might feel in advance

Believe in you and your ability to birth your baby

Remind you that you can say “no” or “not now”

Help you find your voice

Be there with you the whole time

Make sure your partner got to do what he or she wanted to

Shut the door again

Remember to fetch the baby book

Change the room temperature

Recall your deepest birth dreams and help to make them happen

Console you when they don’t

Reflect your rhythms

Take detailed notes of what people say and write down what happened

Empower you to advocate for what you want

Try other things first

Disappear when you need privacy

Understand how each pain medication may affect you and your baby

Know your birth memories and satisfaction will affect you the rest of your life

Protect the space

Keep irrelevant activities from distracting you

Offer unconditional support free from future obligations

Be your doula


I’ve often said that no one notices what the doula does; they only notice if she’s not there.   The professional doula often works in the background to make things run more smoothly and help people to get along.  Of course doulas do more than what is on this list but those activities (i.e. comfort measures, encouragement) can also be done by nurses and loved ones.  This list is about what we uniquely bring to the labor room.  It is based on my interviews with sixty doulas and parents about their experiences.

Use this post with your clients and other professionals!  Research articles are great but sometimes a detailed list of what we actually DO seals the deal.

For your own pdf copy of this list, click here:  If the Doula Disappeared…No One Would

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  1. MarieSoledad

    Hello, I’ve read the german translation of this text an I really want to give you, as the autor, my response. I hope, my english ist well enough for this 😉

    My mother is also a doula. I am a nearly 23 year jung woman, which wants to give herselft time yet with getting children. But I want to have them someday and – especially because of very much communication wit my mother concerning womanhood, ancient knowledge, doulas and birth (un)culture – I look unbelievable happyly forward to my own birth-giving(s).
    (of course with doula, and depending on the position of medicine I would prefer a “Guerilla-Baby” than under medically controll – they mustn’t destroy my and may babys experience 😉 )

    I love children, but I can’t really imagine how it will be to have children and grow them up. (besides, it always becomes different from what we could imagine ;D )
    viewed in this light i’m much more looking forward to giving birth than to having children – this joy cames after 😉
    I believe, that sadly very few women in our “civilation” really look forward to giving birth. They usually look forward to the child and look at the birth as a necessary but torturous price they have to pay for it.
    And when givin birth works in a good way, it is relatively little troublesome, dramatic and bad. This makes me very sad. Giving birth oughta be the aboriginal most uplifting, greatest moment in a womans life….?
    “If a woman doesn’t look like a godess while giving birth, this means she isn’t treatet right” – I think that’s a wonderfull saying.

    What I basically wanted to say: I’ve read this text and found it very moving. My eyes welled up with tears because of longing. It sound so much like secureness, tenderness, respect, love, warmth. So much like “the most gorgeous day of life”.

    I’ve saved the link and will show this text to everyone whom I earnestly talk to about the topics birth and doula.

    Thank you for this words!
    Thank you for being doula =)

    warm regards
    (from Austria)

    PS: I hope, my english (and the help of an online-dictionary =D ) suffice to transmit my feelings and what I want to say. If there are missunderstandings feel free to ask 😉 (some of the vocabularies I had to search in the dictionary and then to choose the – hopefully – right of 5-20 options. And my grammatic is surely far from perfect)

  2. Ann Harvey

    Lovely…I will indeed be printing this out as a keeper and a reminder of how great becoming/being a Doula.

  3. What a pity that there is no author named for this lovely piece!
    Penny Simkin

    • Amy Gilliland

      Hi Penny! Thank you for the compliment! Amy

      P.S. My name is at the top and on the pdf file.

  4. Emily

    I love this so much!

  5. Theresa Malloy

    Wishing I got more doulas to work with, and remembering my colleagues’ frustrations with working with doulas. It is an interesting world that pairs unwilling nurses with good doulas.


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