Why I Love Being a Doula


“Doula” is an ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves” which is now commonly used to refer to a professional labor support person.  A doula works with the mother’s chosen care team to enhance her journey into parenthood by providing physical, emotional, and informational support continuously throughout her birthing experience.   Numerous studies have shown that when a doula is hired, labor is shorter with fewer medical interventions, the baby is healthier, breastfeeding is more successful, and parents have more positive feelings toward their birth and each other.

I feel incredibly honored to provide this service to women and their families, and here are my top five reasons why:

1)     It’s challenging work.

It will never get boring.  It will never be predictable.  Labors are like snowflakes- no two are alike.  We can neither plan the path of the birth ahead of time, nor can we fully anticipate the needs of the expectant couple.  As a doula, my “tool bag” needs to be fully stocked with items such as massage tools and oils, but much more importantly with endless ideas, suggestions, and trust in the woman’s ability.

Another challenging aspect is living on call.  As a solo doula, I commit myself to being available for up to four weeks (24/7) for each mother, and utilize my back-up doula only in the case of an emergency.  There are sacrifices involved as well as kid-juggling.  I’m very fortunate to have a supportive husband and village to call on for kid coverage.

2)     It’s rewarding work.

I am able to bring with me my informational knowledge of labor and birth from being a certified childbirth educator, my experiential knowledge from being a doula, and my own wisdom gained from giving birth twice.  This alleviates stress, and encourages the couple to be more fully present.  My main goal as a doula is to preserve the woman’s memory of her birth.  I often ask myself, “How will she remember this?”  An additional goal is to help make the birth a more positive experience for the woman’s partner (when applicable).  Most partners have never been to a birth before their own baby’s, and yet women look to them as the experts to help with breathing, coping, and understanding what is happening physiologically.  In my eyes, it is the birth of a family and each member deserves caring support!

3)     It helps me become a better educator.

Any quality birth professional will admit there is ALWAYS more to learn.  Each birth gives me a wider perspective and more anecdotal stories to share in childbirth preparation classes.  Parents greatly appreciate hearing specific information about our local birthing centers, in addition to currently available evidence-based material found in books and research.

4)     I have the privilege of regularly witnessing the miracle of life.

It humbles me, keeps my priorities in order, and sparks my own birth memories.  There is nothing else more touching than supporting life’s entrance into the world.  When I return home after “work,” I have a greater appreciation for my little ones and our strong family relationships.  I am more grateful for our time together, and my work provides a balance in my life that keeps me feeling refreshed and energized.

5)     I have the honor of being part of a lifelong memory.

Research shows that women remember their births vividly for the rest of their lives.  When I am hired as a doula, I know I will play a part in these memories, and I do not take this responsibility on lightly.  In the end, though, I want to only hold a small, yet positive part.  Mom is the star- I want it to be HER story, HER success, HER triumph.  And when she has a partner, I want the partner to feel proud of his or her role played, and to join me in awe of the incomparable, unforeseen power and strength this woman dug deep and found during her journey into motherhood no matter how the birth unfolded.  And what better way to begin caring for this new, dependent baby than feeling powerful, proud, and confident?

I have been remembered as a doula in many different ways.  In touching testimonials found on my website, in birth stories (here’s one), and even as an action hero in an interactive digital adventure story.  They usually surprise me and ALWAYS inspire me!


[typography font=”Delius Swash Caps” size=”18″ size_format=”px”] Written by Francesca Arnoldy[/typography]

Francesca Arnoldy, ICCE, CD, Co-leader for ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) of Northern VT

Francesca is an experienced, certified childbirth educator & doula.  Before becoming involved in the birth world, she graduated from UVM and worked in the social services field. Becoming a mother opened her mind and heart to this new career path.  Being invited into people’s intimate birthing experiences is an honor and privilege.

She recently started a solo doula practice, VT Birth Haven, with amazing back-up support from Sally MacFadyen (The Fourth Trimester) and Jessilyn Dolan (Birthwell). You can contact Francesca at [email protected] or by phone: (802) 578-2458

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  1. Hi, I would REALLY like to know what I need to do to become a doula, I have no experience in it but would love to know what it takes to become one. If you have any information or the know how of where I may find information to become more informed as to how to get started I would be so appreciative. Thanks so much. I am so interested as to how to become one.

    • Hi Tammie! I just read your comment and wanted to respond. There are a number of options for doula certification programs. I would recommend CAPPA and DONA, although I am certified through ICEA (because I was already a certified childbirth educator through ICEA). I meet with douls in-training frequently to share my experiences and advice and would be happy to chat more if you’d like. Best of luck!


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