By Kaylee Cumming, RMT

As an RMT and doula of seven years, I’ve fielded the question “What is a doula?” more times than I can count. It’s a question that speaks to the heart of what we do, which is to provide invaluable support to birthing individuals and their families during one of life’s most transformative experiences.

The term “doula” traces its roots back to ancient Greece. It originated from the word “doule,” meaning a female slave who attended to a birthing woman. However, today’s understanding of a doula is far from servitude. It embodies a professional companion who walks alongside birthing families, offering guidance, comfort, and empowerment.

The role of a doula encompasses a diverse range of support, and each aspect is tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of the individuals involved. What does this look like?


For many families, having a doula means having a steadfast advocate in their corner. Doulas are well-versed in birth options and rights to ensure that the birthing person’s preferences are respected. We want you to feel empowered to make informed decisions about your own care. Whether it’s advocating for delayed cord clamping, promoting skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, or advocating for alternative pain relief methods, doulas are there to champion the birther’s wishes.

Information and Education

Birth is a journey into the unknown, especially for first-time parents. Doulas bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table in order to demystify the birthing process. We equip families with the information they need to feel confident and prepared. From childbirth classes to one-on-one consultations, doulas serve as trusted resources. We answer questions, addressing concerns, and providing evidence-based information to help families navigate their birthing journey.

Physical Support

Labor and childbirth can be physically demanding. Doulas provide unwavering physical support, offering a comforting presence and a reassuring touch throughout the birthing process. From massage and counter pressure techniques to suggesting optimal birthing positions, doulas use their expertise to enhance comfort, facilitate progress, and alleviate discomfort. Whether it’s a  hand to hold during contractions or a supportive presence during medical interventions, doulas are there every step of the way, ensuring that the birthing person feels supported and empowered.

Emotional Support

Welcoming a new life into the world is a profound and emotional experience. There are a wide spectrum of feelings – excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety, and joy. Doulas provide compassionate emotional support, creating a safe space for families to express these emotions. Sharing fears and navigating the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany childbirth is all part of the role.  Doulas provide invaluable emotional support, helping families feel seen, heard, and supported throughout their birthing journey. We offer words of encouragement, lending a listening ear, or simply being a calming presence in the room.

So, what’s the essence of a doula’s role? It’s about being there, fully present, for birthing individuals and their families during one of life’s most transformative experiences. Advocating for their wishes, sharing knowledge, providing comfort, and holding space for emotions- these are the pillars of doula support. It’s not just a job; it’s a passion, a calling, and an incredible privilege to be part of such a sacred journey. As a doula, I’m continually humbled by the strength, resilience, and beauty of the families I have the honour to serve. Be sure to follow our blog page for more useful information on doula services and other topics.

Follow Kaylee Cumming, RMT's blog posts

Share This