I am often asked what a doula is, and it got me thinking.
Being a doula is personal and variable and so the answers that I came up with were about 'who' rather than 'what' the doula might be. Here are some of them.
A doula is someone chosen by you who will support your choices for your pregnancy and birth.
A doula believes in the positive power of birth and in your power to birth positively.
A doula brings peace, calm and confidence to your birth space because she trusts birth and trusts women's wonderful bodies.
A doula shows you your strength and brings you reassurance whether birth is smooth or complicated, joyful or challenging. It may be both.
A doula will speak words of encouragement, or fill you with encouragement silently.
A doula will put you first throughout your birth journey - you are her guiding star. Your needs are her map.
A doula supports your partner too, helping them to be there for you without anxiety, focussed on you and the baby who is arriving.
A doula knows it is a privilege to be with a birthing woman and she wants to see you treated like a queen in labour.
A doula will not suit everyone. She will suit the mothers she is meant to serve. Meet as many doulas as you need to find the one who makes you feel safe, happy and understood.
A doula is an expert in connection, she is not a clinical expert. A doula understands what the birthing body needs and knows how to tend the heart of the birthing mother. All roles have their own wisdom.
A doula will help you to surf the intensity of birth. A doula will help to relax and let birth happen.
A doula is there just for you. She cares about your baby and may adore babies but she is there for you.
A doula can give you good information so you can make choices that feel right for you. She is not an advisor, she is upholding your right to choose.
A doula might massage you, bring you drinks, breathe with you, show you ways to be comfortable, run you baths, take you to hospital, set you up at home, hold your hand, pack your bag, light your candles, make your snacks, say your affirmations. She might do none of those things. What do you think you would like your doula to do?
A doula gets to know you before your baby is born and waits for your baby to arrive. She will be with you throughout labour. You will always have a loving, trusted face in the room.
A doula will be where you need her to be. By your side, or waiting out of sight but still attuned to you. You will know what you need.
A doula understands your birth story. She has lived it with you. She will listen to you when you want to tell it, or tell it over.
A doula is part of a community of people passionate about birth and parenthood. You are tapping into a groundswell of birth wisdom through her.
A doula is not 'qualified' although she may have learned much. What would make you feel she is qualified to be your doula?
A doula can come in as many variations as humans do. A doula is not necessarily a mother, although through your journey with them they will be mothering the mother in you.
A doula has been drawn to her work. She knows that you and your baby's birth are part of the deep magic of this world.
Who is a doula? I'd love to read your answers to that question in the comments.
Are you expecting a baby? Would you like to have a doula? You can start looking for your doula at www.doula.org.uk or find a doula who has done the BirthBliss training here.
Thank you for reading my blog. I am Olivia Southey, a hypnobirthing teacher and doula based in London and on the worldwide web. I became passionate about pregnancy and birth after having my first child and now see it as connected to so many important areas of life. I write about birth, motherhood, women's awesomeness, women's health and the mind-body connection. I'd love to stay in touch with you so you get my new articles via email: