What is a Doula and how to find the one that is right for you

Find the right Doula for you
Fiona Reilly
Written by Fiona Reilly

A doula refers to someone who supports women and their families on an emotional, practical, physical, informational and/or spiritual level before, during and after childbirth. Birth and becoming a parent is a momentous experience. For various reasons many women and families choose to have doulas as an extra support to work alongside the maternity services. With a doula you opt into a relationship with someone who will be there throughout your whole birthing process, so that you can feel safe and supported as you encounter new people and situations that are unfamiliar.


We all have different lives and unique needs. Doulas aim to provide open, non-judgemental support for you and your family. Knowing that there is someone you can trust, who is available and present can reduce stress and can help the family to relax, be with the whole birth experience and enjoy it more fully. Doulas can also support a family postnatally as they adjust to having a new family member.

A doula can be many things; a space holder, nurturer, negotiator, constant presence, massager, information giver, encourager, faith keeper, movement facilitator, water bringer or whatever other role you might need filled. She may offer suggestions and resources for further information but does not give advice, undertake any clinical tasks or make any medical decisions. She is chosen by the mother/parents and acts to support their choices and birth experience, and to assist in their transition to parenthood.

Is a doula right for me?

Deciding to have a doula present at your birth is not right for everyone, though it is a choice that many people are now making for diverse reasons. If the idea of having a doula to support you before, during and/or after childbirth resonates, feel free to get in touch with a local doula for a friendly chat. Don’t let cost get in the way of contacting someone to explore possibilities, most doulas offer reductions or exchanges and are open to negotiating something that works for you both.

When looking for a doula, it’s not usually their expertise or how many courses they have done or the “package” that they are offering that is important. Primarily it’s about connection, trust and relationship. It’s about who you feel comfortable to invite to be present with you at a very sacred and intimate time. A time when you transition from the woman you are to the mother you will be when you birth your baby. Feeling safe and secure is an important contributing factor to a smooth birth and so you want someone with whom you feel positive and secure, someone who helps to raise your oxytocin levels.

Questions to contemplate…

Here are some questions to contemplate when choosing the doula that is right for you and your family:

  • How do I feel in the presence of this person?
  • Is this someone I can imagine hanging out with for a couple of days? Do we “click”?
  • Do I feel strong and empowered with the support of this doula?
  • Do I trust this doula? They will be sharing quite intimate moments with you.
  • What is particularly important for me in a doula? Which doulas meet those needs?
  • What does my gut instinct say about working with this doula or which one is the right one for me?
  • If you have a partner how do they feel about each doula you meet? Do they feel supported and included?

As a member of the Scottish Doula Network and Conscious Birthing I encourage you to meet lots of doulas so that you find the doula that is right for you and your family. Each doula is unique and has various qualities and skills to offer. Sometimes we may suggest another doula that we feel would be a good match for you. We encourage you to trust your instincts and gut feelings. Pregnancy and birth is a time when we are particularly connected to our own truth and have a heightened sense of knowing.  

You can read some testimonials about the benefits of doulas here.

I wish you all the best for your birth journey and beyond, if you have any questions or comments feel free to get in touch.

Photos of pregnant women by Devon Divine and Camylla Battani on Unsplash
Banner photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash