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More often I’m seeing posts from people who ask: Doula or childbirth class?

I sigh heavily and start typing away about why this isn’t an either or type of question. You’d never say about a hospital birth: Doctor or L&D nurse? You’d never say, midwife or pediatrician?

I’ve responded to so many of these types of questions that I should have my response automated to save time.

Truthfully, this is not the fault of the parents. We’ve made doulas and childbirth class seem like luxuries and not the necessities that they are.

As a childbirth educator, I spend time talking about what a doula does and how it’s different than applying what they’ve learned in my class. My explanations here are not always believed. I’ve had dads tells me that they are quick studies and surely THEY will get it right. I try to correct them, but it falls on deaf ears.

What does help them is when I have students come back from giving birth to share their stories – “Get a doula!” they say. Emphatically.

As a doula, I require people to take childbirth classes. It is actually in my contract. I explain that I have so many awesome things to talk about, but that it assumes a basic knowledge level. I also have referrals for them to awesome classes in my area. (I think it’s also important to know who offers scholarships or where they can get a class for what price should that be an issue for the families.)

I’ve only had two families really push back about it – one was because of where they lived and so we came up with a reading list instead. The other had previously had a baby and didn’t want to take the time, so wound up going to an abbreviated class.

I can’t be busy telling you how a cervix dilates in the middle of labor without at least a few of the words making sense. The laboring brain doesn’t work that way.

So how can you get across that they both have purposes?


  • Consider requiring some form of childbirth education of clients
  • Work with childbirth educators to find out what they are teaching/when
  • Give handouts on the benefits for childbirth education
  • Talk about childbirth classes frequently to all expectant parents

Childbirth Educators:

  • Consider having a doula come to your class to talk about what doulas do
  • Invite students back to talk about their births, particularly those who used doulas
  • Give handouts out about the benefits of doula care (Here’s one I like.)
  • Use a doula to teach something interesting in class like birth balls

What are ways that you can think to share about how to cross-pollinate between doulas and childbirth educators?

The Birth Geeks

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