Everything you want to know about a Doula but were afraid to ask.

Doula is a Greek word meaning “servant”, referring to a “woman experienced in childbirth who provides … support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth”. Doulas bring their knowledge and experience to provide emotional support, physical comfort and enhance effective communication with the mother, her partner, and family. She provides women with the information they need to make informed decisions throughout labour and childcare. Doulas work for the woman and her partner and not the hospital or medical caregiver. After baby arrives, doulas mother the mother and lend their knowledge and expertise in newborn and mother care as they learn to be a family together. She guides and supports women and their partners continuously through labour and birth. She is on call for you, arrives at your home or  hospital when you need her, and remains with you until after the baby is born. Doulas are trained in providing emotional support, physical comfort, and nonclinical advice. A doula draws on her knowledge and experience as she reassures, encourages, comforts, and empathizes with the mother. She advises the partner about how to help, suggesting when to use particular positions, the bath, the shower, and specific comfort measures.

A Doula’s Do List:

Doulas Do:

  • Give information about medical examinations and procedures
  • Give information about medications and then refer the client to her caregiver for decision-making
  • Help the client get the information she needs to make her decisions
  • Suggest questions the client might like to ask of her caregiver.


Doulas Do Not:

  • Perform clinical tasks such as blood pressure checks, fetal heart checks or vaginal exams, or any postpartum clinical care
  • Prescribe or recommend medications
  • Make decisions for the client or advise her as to what decision to make
  • Speak to the client’s caregivers on her behalf

Doula FAQ’s


How is a Doula certified and/or trained?

There are a variety of ways a doula can be trained and certified. However, there is no legislated controls on this currently. When interviewing a doula, ask about her training, experience, and philosophy. It is your responsibility to ask how and why she is certified/trained or why not.

 What might Doula support include?

Each doula is responsible for her own support package. So, this is a great interview question when hiring your doula. Typically doulas offer 1-3 prenatal visits to get to know each other, to provide some labour and birth plan education, to offer referrals, and to answer questions. A doula will attend your birth sometime before truly active labour and she will stay with you until your baby has initiated feeding. She will then support you in the postpartum period with breastfeeding, light household tasks, emotional processing of your birth and more. Again, she will provide 1-3 visits based on her package and your needs.

What are comfort techniques?

These are a doulas secret weapon! A doula can bring comforting touch, comforting words and a variety of comforting tools to your birth. A mama who is feeling well supported and cared for when she arrives at active labour is going to deal with the intensity of her contractions much better than a mama who arrives at active labour feeling unsupported, fearful or weepy. Some comfort techniques include positive mantras, breathing techniques, humour, distraction, double hip squeeze, a variety of massage techniques, use of positions and activity, use of showers, baths (when appropriate), candlelight, music, and possibly a TENS machine.

What is a TENS machine?

A TENS machine is a small handheld device that attaches to 4 electrodes which in turn attach to a labouring mama’s back. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The impulses it generates are much like something you might experience at physiotherapy. These impulses work in three different ways. They provide continuous sensation, which helps to increase endorphin flow increasing mom’s sense of well-being and building mom’s ability to deal with contractions. Second, they prevent some of the pain sensation from reaching the brain. And third, the mother controls the TENS unit so it acts as a distraction and a reminder that a contraction is ending and she can rest now.

Tens Machine Rental: A TENS machine is a small handheld device that is used on the back of a labouring mother. It is one coping mechanism used during labour.   Most doulas charge a small additional amount for this rental to keep up with supply and maintenance costs. Ask your doula if she has one.

What are the benefits of a Doula?

Doula support is widely recognized as beneficial. There is EVIDENCE that doula support is beneficial. Women who hire doulas feel better about their births, their choices, and their experiences. Additionally, we see significantly lower intervention and c-section rates with moms who hire doulas. Evidence shows having a doula can lower your chances of experiencing postpartum anxiety and depression. Doulas play a key role in empowering women to feel strong and proud of their bodies, themselves, and their powerful ability to influence the life they have brought into the world.

 How much does having a Doula cost?

Most doulas in Kelowna are charging between $500-$1500 per birth package. This usually includes all the doula support – prenatal, postpartum, and labour support – plus all the on-call time and phone/text support. That being said some doulas in bigger Canadian cities charge between $1000 and $2000. In the UK, some doulas charge $2000 to $3000. In small towns, fees can be lower but, depending on location, it may be hard to find a doula. If you or your partner are of Aboriginal descent, check with your band to see what they offer. Some bands will cover the cost of having a doula completely. Sometimes doula costs can be claimed under medical expenses when claiming your taxes.

 What is a postpartum Doula and how much do they cost?

A postpartum doula is any doula who is specifically hired for extra support in the postpartum period. This can be in addition to your birth doula or she can be the same doula. The postpartum doula continues working to support mom and her partner for additional negotiated hours that extend beyond those initial postpartum visits. She may do more light household tasks (however, she is not your cleaner). She may help integrate families in households with older children. She may work to support families with a multiples birth. Talk to your doula about your greatest needs at this time and what a postpartum package may look like for your family. Most doulas in Kelowna charge $25-30 per hour, some with discounts for larger packages.

If I have a midwife, do I need a Doula?

 A midwife offers medical support, clinical care for the baby and have a medical based background. A woman chooses a midwife or a doctor for her pregnancy, labour and postpartum period as her primary caregiver. This caregiver is then responsible for medically.

Additionally, she can hire a doula for emotional and physical support. Doulas offer pre and postnatal emotional support for mother and her partner. Labour can be lengthy and exhausting, so a doula can provide physical support through comfort measures such as gentle massage, guided breathing, and position support. She also provides education and information to the mother so that she can make informed choices in her birth experience. A doula can be there before your midwife to support your labour. Your midwife will be there to monitor the well-being of mom and baby. A midwife can offer some support but a doula is there solely to offer support. Midwives value doula services and having a doula and a mid-wife makes a incredible team.

What is the difference between a Doula and a midwife? A:  The role of a doula differs quite significantly from that of a midwife.  While midwives offer medical support and have a medical based background, doulas are not medical care providers.  Instead, doulas offer pre and postnatal emotional support for the mother and her partner.  She provides physical support through comfort measures such as gentle massage, guided breathing, and position support and provides education and information to the mother so that she can make informed choices in her birthing experience.  As well, she advocates for her client’s wishes but does not have the training or the legal right to give advice or prescribe. Why do I need a Doula if I have a partner? Your partner is not only present at the baby’s birth to support you but also to witness the birth of the new member of your family.  This is a momentous event for your partner and can be quite overwhelming.  A doula can support your partner so that the moment of becoming a parent can be fully experienced and not overshadowed by exhaustion and anxiety about the laboring mother.  A doula in no way takes the place of your birth partner, or should in any way interfere with their role.  A doula enhances the role of your birth partner by providing guidance to you both.  A doula’s touch, words, suggestions and helping hands act as a guide to your partner.  In a long or difficult labour a doula and a birth partner work together to give you the utmost care.  On a basic level a doula can get you water, warm a blanket, or rub your feet while your partner holds your hand, breathes with you and keeps eye contact.  Current research has shown that women express greater satisfaction with their birth experience and an enhanced relationship with their partner when a doula has been present.*

My role, as a birth doula, encompasses the non-clinical aspects of care during childbirth.

"She helped me feel confident and in control during the entire process, which was extremely empowering. I would happily hire Shannon-Tara to be my doula again!"