Should you get a doula?

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It’s becoming progressively clearer that there is no single birthing style that works for every woman. From Caesarean sections to water births to all-natural home births, mothers in Bangkok are delivering their children in different ways that are medically sound and suited to them. Really, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. After all, childbirth is one of the most personal, intimate moments in a woman’s life, and there’s no reason to think that there is a single right way to go about it.

And yet, despite this newfound open-mindedness, certain practices continue to be hotly debated. One that draws a particularly large amount of controversy enlisting the services of a doula. For the uninitiated, a doula is simply a woman who assists the mother through the final stages of pregnancy, labor and post-labor. She typically meets the family at about eight months and has a set number of scheduled visits before and after the due date. A doula has minimal professional medical training and should defer to doctors or nurses on any major decisions. Rather their role is to make the mother feel comfortable and provide moral support throughout the process. Think of her as your personal labor couch.

The Cons

So why would anyone object to the use of a doula? Some spouses question if having a doula there will make them feel less involved in the process. More often, doctors protest at the presence of a non-medical individual who may try to change an expectant mother’s mind about important birthing decisions. It’s an understandable concern. A birth is tricky as it is, and a doctor may worry about anyone who might undermine their authority.

The Pros

In general though, many women find the presence of a doula reassuring. Advocates of doulas say they can have a tremendously positive effect. They have been credited with everything from shortening the length of labor to reducing the need for medical assistance. A doula can provide a calm, safe, familiar face. Most medical staff involved in the birth will be complete strangers to the mother; a doula offers continuity in the midst of a sea of anonymous doctors and nurses.

A doula also offers an experienced female voice that even the most loving husband just can’t provide. Even if she is not a physician, a doula should be someone who is very familiar with the whole birthing process, and she should be able to give out words of encouragement when it gets a bit rough. She also takes some of the pressure off a harried spouse.

In other words, a well-trained doula has a distinct job and should not infringe on either the role of the husband or the staff. Not every woman needs this kind of moral support, but a great many find it very helpful.

What to Look For

If you do choose to use a doula, make sure you clear this with your doctor in advance. More and more hospitals in Thailand are allowing a doula to be present at the actual birth, but you want to make absolutely sure. You also need to be reasonably certain that the doula will be able to be present. If she has more than a few clients a month, bear in mind that she may be called by another mother on your Big Day. The last thing you want is a doula who doesn’t show.

should you get a doula

Finally, get a sense of who she is as a person. Discuss what she feels her place should be as a doula and why she was drawn to become one in the first place. Look at what her experience is and if she has any sort of national certification, either foreign or Thai. Remember: this is a woman who you are welcoming into a very special moment in your life. No matter how good she looks on paper, she needs to be someone with whom both you and your spouse feel 100 percent comfortable.

Photo Credit: dino_olivieri via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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  1. Demetria  /  October 16, 2014, 8:11 pm Reply

    The benefits of having a doula are scientifically proven over and over. They are not just women who are taking the place of a partner. They involve and assist partners, work to include them in support, education and care. No doula wants to take the place of the partner. Most partners love what a doula is and are often the driving force behind the women seeking out the care of a doula.
    Having been an expat it is essential to remember that care and support can often be hard to find in a foreign country, and that these women are willing to assist you in navigating the system, getting what you want and making sure you are properly supported.
    The myth that doulas make medical decisions is a blatant falsehood, and an easy rumor to spread. If a patient makes a decision a doctor does not like, it is not her husband or doulas fault. Give women some credit and acknowledge their ability to make decisions for themselves. This attitude infantizes women. Most doctors appreciate doulas. Let’s be honest, most are only in the room with the mother for a short while, but the doula is a consistent factor, for 12, 20, 48 hours. Not even a nurse can be with a woman the whole time. The doulas is not their to do anything but what the mother asks. A doula will be their for it all, natural birth, epidural, C-section, nicu emergencies, loss, etc.. She will support the family on this journey and it is about time the need for this is acknowledged.

  2. Gerne  /  October 17, 2014, 11:37 am Reply

    Good Morning Team, I am a Dona Student Doula looking for opportunities to Volunteer or Train as a Doula in Thailand. I live in Chiang Mai, and willing to relocate if I can find a suitable opportunity.
    Kind Regards

    • Claudine  /  November 19, 2014, 11:28 pm Reply

      I’m looking for a doula – but I live in Phuket. Pls Contact me at


      • admin  /  November 21, 2014, 3:35 pm Reply

        Hello, and thank you for your question.

        ExpectingExpats does not recommend any specific doulas, however here is a resource that should get you going in the right direction:

        The Expecting Expats Team

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