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What's a doula? |Bowling Green, KY Birth Doula, Photographer, Lactation Counselor and Educator

You may be thinking? What the heck is a doula and why would I even need one? Well, hopefully after reading this blog post you will have a better idea of what a doula is and what a doula does!

By definition a doula is ...

(which is different most everywhere that you look)

for instance ...

Dona International, an internationally recognized leader in doula training and certifying defines a doula as

"a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible."

Evidence Based Birth, one of my personal favorite sources for evidence based pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding information, shares this information on their "Evidence on: Doulas" article.

"What is a doula?

According to Dr. Christine Morton, author of the book Birth Ambassadors, a birth doula is a companion who supports a birthing person during labor and birth. Birth doulas are trained to provide continuous, one-on-one care, as well as information, physical support, and emotional support to birthing persons and their partners."

All of these things are true, BUT there are different types of doulas available to serve your needs. While they all serve in some capacity during pregnancy or postpartum, not all specialize in serving a mother or family through the birthing process.

Birth Doula

Bereavement Doula

Postpartum Doula

Sibling Doula

So here's how I explain the roles and importance of different types of doulas.

Birth Doula

A birth doula is a trained professional that serves families, NOT only the birthing person, (Doulas are for partners, too) through pregnancy, labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum period. Your doula will offer support by providing evidence based information, physical support, emotional support, advocacy and community resources!

Bereavement Doula

A bereavement doula is a trained professional, likely also a trained birth doula, who specializes in assisting families experiencing pregnancy loss at any gestational age. Your bereavement doula will assist you in all of the ways that a traditional birth doula would but is trained and dedicated to specifically recognize and attend to the unique needs of families experiencing loss.

Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula is a trained professional that offers postpartum assistance to postpartum families. Specifically, postpartum doulas are trained to identify and attend to the needs of postpartum families. They offer support with newborn care, information, household tasks, emotional support. When I think of a postpartum doula my mind immediately goes to a kind, patient, caring, maternal relative that cares for the birthing person, their partner and baby to ease the stress of the postpartum period.

Sibling Doula

A sibling doula is so much more than just a caregiver for your child during your labor, birth and immediate postpartum. A sibling doula is trained to identify and address the needs and questions of your children. Sibling doulas help siblings feel included in the birth experience and ease the stress of the transition of a new family member. At a home birth, a sibling doula can help your child be present to welcome their new baby, as well as identify and address fears or concerns that they may have regarding the process. Sibling doulas help families bond through the birth process by allowing parents peace of mind that their children are present and cared for during their experience but also gives them to space to focus on their labor and welcoming.

In future blog posts, I'll go in to more detail about examples of what tasks each of these types of doulas carry out and why they are important.

Sam Steen offers birth and bereavement doula services as well as lactation counseling, breastfeeding education and photography right here in downtown Bowling Green and our surrounding area! If you'd like more information and would like to schedule a free consultation, shoot her an email at!

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