Doulas: What They Do and How They Help Moms Through Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum

Doula care is invaluable during pregnancy, labor and delivery. During pregnancy, doulas provide education and resources to help you know what to expect during birth and in the postpartum period.  A doula remains with you throughout your entire labor and birth, usually staying to help as you establish breastfeeding. But sadly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, doula support has become more difficult to obtain, if not impossible.


I worked as a doula for several years before I decided to take a break a few years ago to have more time with my five kids. During the pandemic, I’ve found myself wondering what it’s like to practice as a doula right now. So much of the care a doula provides is physical, from hip squeezes, to acupressure, to simply holding mama’s hand while she breathes through contractions. In an age of social distancing, how are doulas continuing their vital work in the birth space?

I asked certified doula and childbirth educator
Rachel West of Rooted Birth Doulas in San Antonio, Texas, how she has worked through the pandemic. Rachel shared how she was able to be there for her client during this challenging time:


“At the start of the pandemic, one of my clients told me how awful it was that she now viewed her care team (midwife and doula) as a potential threat, rather than a support system. This shift in perception caused a lot of anxiety in her last few weeks of pregnancy. I couldn’t help but think about how this impacted our doula-client relationship and wanted nothing more than to bring her confidence and comfort, so I stayed isolated until her birth.” 


That sacrifice enabled Rachel to provide doula care in a safe way that did not make her client anxious. That’s the calling of a doula – to put her clients’ needs above her own in order to be a steady, dependable support. It’s not easy, especially during a pandemic!


In addition to isolating and practicing social distancing, Doulas of North America (DONA) International suggests that doulas use virtual meetings to prepare for labor and delivery, utilize PPE equipment during labor, and practice healthy hygiene and self-care practices. With these practices, you can be assured that doula care remains a safe and important part of your delivery. Fortunately, as we have learned more about COVID-19, doulas have been more and more welcome in the hospital and other birth spaces. Let’s hope that trend continues!


Nicole lives in Maryland with her husband and five (soon to be six!) children. She spends most of her time homeschooling her very energetic kids. Although "Mom" is her full-time title right now, she has also worked as a birth and postpartum doula, prenatal fitness specialist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, and freelance writer and editor.