Mary Gillett, CD(DONA)

Certified Birth Doula

A What? A Doula!

If only I had a dollar for every awkward time I have tried to explain to an acquaintance or co-worker what a "doula" is! The most common comment is "That's like a midwife - right?" To which I politely say, "No, I am at the other end of the mother."

The unusual word "doula" comes from an old fashioned Greek word meaning "female servant."  In times gone by, a "doula" would have been the chief female servant who would have assisted the woman of the house to give birth.  A doula accompanies a woman and her partner through the childbirth experience, providing emotional support, touch, massage, positioning and other suggestions to enhance the positive and memorable experience of birth.  With the recent rise in popularity of water birth, a doula also often doubles as your tub manager.

A doula is not a medical care provider, nor can she speak for you as your advocate in medical situations. You will need to prepare a thoughtful birth plan (check out the "Resources" page) which you should share with your medical care provider.  A doula will help to support your desires, and help you navigate the unpredictable twists and turns of the birth experience with dignity and empowerment.

While I will educate you and your partner at prenatal visits, it is not a substitute for a good prenatal education class.  I require that all of my clients take a prepared childbirth class. Contact me for a current list of providers.

Many people ask me, "Why would someone want a doula?"  After all, if you have a hospital, a doctor or a midwife, and a partner, what more do you need?

My answer is this:  "Birth matters!"  Of course the outcome of the birth matters. Everyone agrees that they want a healthy baby and a speedy recovery.  But women seem to know at an instinctual level that the experience of birth matters too. It is more than a means to an end.  It is a unique and personal challenge for which women's bodies are wonderfully designed.  Birth is empowering and prepares you for the challenge of parenting that lies ahead. 

A doula will support you to make thoughtful choices through a sometimes unpredictable experience.  A doula's first concern is supporting your birth choices.  My most important question for you would be "How will you remember this day?"  I want you to remember it with triumph, joy, and satisfaction with the way you navigated the journey.

Just as important is the clinical evidence that demonstrates the advantages of hiring a doula.  According to clinical research from DONA, International (2005)the presence of a doula at birth tends to result in:

  • shorter labor with fewer complications,
  • reduced negative feelings about the childbirth experience
  • reduced incidence of the mother's request for pain medication or epidural, and
  • reduced use of pitocin, forcepts, vacuum extraction, and cesarean section.

Parents who receive the support of a doula tend to:

  • feel more secure and cared-for in this important experience,
  • are more successful at adapting to the new family dynamics,
  • have greater success at breastfeeding, and
  • experience greater self-confidence with a lower incidence of postpartum depression.

Want to know more?  Watch this video on youtube "The Essential Ingredient: Doula"