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What is a Doula?

Whenever I meet new people I always take pause when asked the question, “What do you do?” Usually my answer is met with a look of confusion, often followed by, “Oh, so you’re like a midwife.” At which point I have to remember that four years ago I had no clue what a Doula was either. Though the word seems to be popping up all over pregnancy websites and blogs, many people still don’t know what a doula is, even though women have been using them since the beginning of time. Just as we might seek a recommendation from our Facebook friends for the best Mexican restaurant in town or Google the best exercises to flatten your tummy, for thousands of years women have sought the wisdom, strength, and care of other women when they embarked on the journey of motherhood.

The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek word meaning “female servant” and though the term seems somewhat archaic, tending to the needs of my clients is an honor. There is something about having positive feminine energy around you that allows women to feel safe and secure, even when you feel like you can’t go on. Doulas can be helpful during all facets of pregnancy, birth, and even post-partum care. Our main focus is giving emotional, physical and educational support for pregnant women and their partners, unlike a midwife who uses her medical training to do examinations, take vitals, and ultimately deliver babies. We do not take the place of a doctor, midwife, or nurse, but instead, add to the team of people who all want a safe and healthy birth. We are there from the beginning of labor, until your sweet bundle of joy is in your arms. We help you have the birth that you envision, a hundred percent focused on your needs. Many doulas also offer additional services like breastfeeding classes, belly casting, prenatal massage, reflexology, pre-natal yoga, or placenta encapsulation. Doulas bring with them the wisdom of their own experiences while respecting the individual paths of each woman.

Many women get into this field because they’ve had less than positive experiences and want to prevent other women from their own birth trauma. For me it’s quite the opposite. I’ve had three children, all naturally, with little to no intervention. My first son was born in a hospital, the second in a birthing center, and the last in a birthing tub in my bedroom. Each one was different, but all of my experiences were wonderful. I show women that birth doesn’t have to be scary or traumatic. I help women tap into a power that some of them have forgotten, or didn’t even know they had. Because life doesn’t always go according to plan, it’s my job is to encourage them, listen to them, and help them stay positive, through all the unexpected twists and turns of pregnancy and labor.  Whether you are planning to use pain medication, have a natural birth or even have a C-section, I believe every woman deserves to have a doula.

Nacia K. Walsh is the Founder & Editor of and the President of The Granolaville Group, a company's whose mission is to empower mothers with the support, tools, and "crunchy goods" they need to create a life that nourishes them. Nacia has written for various local and national publications including and the Sesame Street Newsletter. After 3 natural births of her own, Nacia decided to put her experiences and passion for natural birth together by creating SoulFueled Mama, a full service birth support company. This fall she will be launching Ready To POP!, a dance class designed for pregnant women that allows them to shake their booty, connect with their baby, in a fun total body workout.

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