This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Doula

Pronounced /ˈduːlə/Help with IPA

This word isn’t especially new — it’s recorded as long ago as the 1980s and the association Doulas of North America has been in existence since 1992 — but it is only slowly becoming known outside the US and as yet is rarely recorded in dictionaries. A doula is a supportive companion, herself a mother, who is trained to help a new mother during childbirth and afterwards. The doula is employed to give advice, practical assistance and emotional support, but doesn’t get involved with the medical aspects of the birth. After the birth, she may continue to advise and perhaps do some light chores around the house to help mum cope with the new baby, though the birth and post-birth types of assistance are often separated. The term comes from the Greek name for a female slave, a household servant, by implication one who would have helped the woman of the house during childbirth.

The professional doula doesn’t just walk into a house and take over — she does whatever is necessary so that the new mother will start to feel that she is taking control of things again.

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 2000

The best possibility would probably be a doula, who is trained to help new mothers in any way she can. This miracle worker will mind the twins for you, fix meals, do the laundry — whatever you want.

Washington Post, June 2000

Page created 5 Aug. 2000

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-dou1.htm
Last modified: 5 August 2000.