Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Doula or Doctor?

Would you suggest that a first time mother use a doula or should she follow the mainstream procedures and give birth at the hospital with doctors present?

Answer (Published 9/22/2008)

"Doula" is a Greek word that originally meant "women's servant," although in today's parlance it refers to a professional who helps women through labor, childbirth and the initial stages of motherhood. The role of the doula is to facilitate a positive childbirth experience. She isn't a substitute for a doctor or a midwife: you still need one or the other for medical care during pregnancy, and one or the other will need to be present when you give birth. However, a doula can enter the picture at any stage of pregnancy or the birth process to answer your questions and provide support and reassurance.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that energy is vital to keeping up with the kids. Find out what foods and supplements can keep you energized - naturally! Join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online plan today and get 14 days free!

Studies have shown that when doulas are present, women are less likely to require pain medications, less likely to have a caesarean delivery, and more likely to report a positive childbirth experience.

I discussed the role of doulas with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women's health, and who studied midwifery earlier in her career. Dr. Low Dog emphasizes that you can use a doula at the hospital, as well as at home, and highly recommends having a doula present for the birth, especially if you're a first-time mother. She also advises checking to see if your hospital has nurse midwives as well as doctors on staff. If so, she says you can be in the hospital but still create a more intimate home-like delivery. If your pregnancy is low risk and you are in good health, giving birth at home can be beautiful, but Dr. Low Dog advises that you will need a qualified midwife in addition to a doula and that home birth is best if you don't live or deliver too far from a hospital should you need one. I agree.

Bear in mind that anyone can be a doula regardless of training – or lack of it. Before hiring one, be sure to ask about her education and experience and check to see if she has been certified by a reputable national organization.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here