A Labor Assistant or "Doula" is a professional care provider who understands and trusts the process of birth, who respects its transcendent and sacred aspects as well as its physical and emotional aspects, and who facilitates the birth experience for the parents, baby and primary care provider. A doula provides continuity of care prenatally through the postpartum period including: emotional support, informational support and advocacy/facilitation.
Labor support doulas are trained and experienced labor support persons who attend to the emotional and physical comfort needs of laboring women to smooth the labor process. They do not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate checks, or vaginal exams but rather use massage, aromatherapy, positioning suggestions, etc., to help labor progress as well as possible. A labor support doula joins a laboring woman either at her home or in hospital or birth center and remains with her until a few hours after the birth. In addition to emotional support, doulas work as advocates of their client’s wishes and may assist in communicating with medical staff to obtain information for the client to make informed decisions regarding medical procedures.