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Maternity - Role of the Doula

Southern NSW Local Health District supports your choice to privately employ a doula for emotional and physical support during labour.

A doula is an experienced companion who understands the emotional and physical needs of a woman and her family throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. A doula provides continuous, non-medical support and care.

Doulas are not registered health professionals and their services are not regulated. The title of doula can be used by anyone.

Some doulas undertake a ‘doula’ course. You can ask your doula about their education and experience. Your doula will be able to provide you with an outline of their experience, ability, education and evaluation from previous families.

There can sometimes be confusion about the roles of a midwife and a doula, particularly if the doula has a midwifery qualification.

Any doula cannot act in any capacity as a midwife during your care, this includes giving clinical advice or clinical tasks such as measuring your foetal heart rate, taking your blood pressure, assessing your contractions, undertaking vaginal examinations or diagnosing conditions.

To reduce role confusion, we encourage you to:

  • bring your doula to your antenatal care appointments to promote information sharing
  • develop your birth plan with your midwife/doctor by 36 weeks
  • please phone the hospital/your midwife if you think you are in labour

Your doula will be included as one of your support people in labour.

Your doula cannot speak for you or make decisions for you with your doctor or midwife.

If you are unable to speak in labour, the midwife/doctor will speak to your partner in care or next of kin about your wishes.

Your doula cannot provide clinical care or advice. If you have any clinical problems or worries, please speak with your midwife or doctor.

Only one person can be present with you in the operating theatre if you need a caesarean birth. You should decide before you labour who this would be to prepare for this possibility.

Like other visitors to the hospital, your doula may be asked to leave if the midwife/doctors are required to focus on your safety.

You can also download this information as a PDF, or ask for a copy from your midwife.

Service Contacts

  • 02 6491 9970
  • 02 6455 3230
  • 02 4827 3224
  • 02 6150 7190
  • 02 4474 1988 
Last updated: 28 February 2023