What Is A Doula And How Do I Find One In Amsterdam?

What is a Doula, what does a Doula do? And how do I find one in Amsterdam? If you thought a doula was an exotic Asian fruit, read this...


If you thought a doula was an exotic Asian fruit, read this...

The word "doula" is of ancient Greek origin, meaning "serving woman" or "woman server". In the United States the word doula has taken on a new meaning. A doula can best be described as a maternity coach. It is an experienced and knowledgeable woman, supporting and assisting expectant parents in a non-medical way during pregnancy, the birth of their baby and in the period after.


What does a Doula do?

As labor coach, the doula is continuously present during labor and promotes a peaceful and safe atmosphere around the birth. The doula is not medically trained, but is characterized by expertise in the field of emotional and practical support with complementary care. Some doula's have specific care areas, including women with extreme anxiety, history of traumatic birth, or social problems. The doula's goal is to increase the quality of care within its field and bring back trust and enhance a woman’s capacity for natural labor.


Why use a Doula?

In recent decades giving birth has increasingly become a medical and technical matter. These developments are hardly giving women a choice to give birth (whether or not with a partner) in a more organic way. The doula can fill this gap with her presence and her knowledge.


The Doula and Science

The best known research on the effects of the doula was conducted by Americans John Kennell, Marshall and Phyllis Klaus in 1993. The results showed:


50% fewer caesarean sections
25% shorter duration of labor
60% fewer requests for epidural
40% less use of Pitocin / oxytocin ('initiation')
30% fewer requests for pain relief
40% reduction in forceps deliveries


TNO* has recently conducted a satisfaction survey among women who recently gave birth. This study showed that 1 in 5 women have a negative memory of giving birth. M. Rijnders (midwife and researcher) calls for clear language and openness about dealing with childbirth pain and also appoints the benefits of continuous support. "Women also show appreciation if it went well. Their recollections are positive when they feel that their care giver gave them appropriate attention and that they had a voice in what would happen. Having options to choose from is particularly very important".


Choosing a Doula

It should be noted that doulas are not substitutes for medical doctors or nursing staffs. They can’t draw blood or prescribe medicine in an emergency. That said, a doula can be an invaluable aid to expectant families. Before choosing a doula, ask around and only use doulas with a proven track record or who come highly recommended. Set up an initial meeting and get to know each other. Ask questions about the doula’s philosophy, practice of care-giving and general knowledge and education or experience.

It is very important for women to have a proper state of mind during pregnancy so a doula must be a positive presence. If during the first meeting, there are things that don’t “vibe” with you or your partner, then you need to find another doula! If things are feeling right, then make a commitment to each other and enjoy the wonders of parenthood.



This article was written by doula Catharina Ooijens. Catharina began coaching pregnant women in 1987. As a doula, she incorporates diverse techniques as a means of awakening natural hormonal resources. Her aim is to encourage contact, to trust one's body's intelligence, and help release oxitocin en endorphins and to reduce adrenaline and the fear to achieve a natural birth. Her years as a filmmaker enhanced her understanding on how public information is directed and manipulated. It is now her goal to inform women and provide a forum to access alternative information. Click here to learn more.