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A birth doula, sometimes referred to as a birth attendant, is a birth coach or companion who provides emotional, physical and non-medical support to women during pregnancy, labour, birth and early parenting.

Services provided

During pregnancy

A birth doula/birth attendant may provide you with information to help prepare for labour or birth. They can also assist in preparing birth preferences.

You should meet with your birth doula/birth attendant throughout your pregnancy to build a balanced relationship. When you first meet, have a list of questions prepared based on what is important to you.

An example of these questions may be:

  • What experience or relevant training have you had?
  • What services do you provide?
  • What are your fees and charges?
  • Do you have a Working with Children and/or Police Check?
  • What is your current immunisation status? (check if they are up-to-date with vaccinations, particularly measles, mumps and rubella, whooping cough, COVID-19, and influenza)
  • Can you provide testimonials or references from previous clients?

During labour and birth

Some ways that a birth doula/birth attendant may support you during labour and birth include:

  • providing reassurance and encouragement
  • helping you with changing positions or getting in and out of the shower or bath
  • assisting with breathing or calming strategies
  • massage or relaxation techniques
  • supporting your birth partner.

After birth

A birth doula/birth attendant may provide support after birth, along with midwives and maternal and child health nurses, to help you learn how to feed and settle your baby, and generally care for them. Some birth doulas/birth attendants may also assist with household chores, preparing meals or caring for older children.

The difference between a birth doula and a midwife

A midwife is a registered health professional. Midwives have training that enables them to be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation AgencyExternal Link . This enables them to provide clinical care for women during their pregnancy, labour, birth (including homebirth) and after they give birth. A midwife can be employed through a public or private health service or can be privately practicing. Practising midwives must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of AustraliaExternal Link .

Birth doulas/birth attendants do not have medical training and are not registered health professionals. They are not qualified to provide clinical advice, information on care or provide emergency care. If you are having a homebirth, you should have a trained registered midwife with you.


Birth doulas/birth attendant are available to women who would like additional support before, during and after birth.

How to access

You can find a birth doula/birth attendant through the following organisations:

Doctors or midwives may also be able to recommend a birth doula/birth attendant who can work collaboratively with your care team.


Birth doula/birth attendant services are not covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance. They charge a private fee for their work which may vary depending on the provider.

It is important to have a written agreement with your birth doula/birth attendant so that all support and financial expectations are clear. This agreement should form part of your pregnancy and birthing discussion with your maternity care team to facilitate appropriate collaboration.


We acknowledge Pregnancy, Birth and BabyExternal Link for providing permission to adopt and adapt material from their webpage to ensure consumers have access to the best health information available:



Peer support


In accordance with Health Complaints Act 2016 a birth doula/birth attendant is a ‘general provider’, meaning they are not required to follow clinical guidelines.


Birth doulas/birth attendants are not registered health professionals and are not required to be registered with a government medical authority.


It is important to let your pregnancy care team know if you would like a birth doula/birth attendant to be part of your pregnancy support team.


Although a birth doula/birth attendant can provide continuous non-medical support, they do not replace your birth support partner (if you have one), your doctor or midwife. They should always be respectful, knowing the boundary between their role and the role of the doctor or midwife.


If there are concerns with a birth doula's provision of service, complaints should be directed to the Health Complaints Commissioner via Tel. 1300 582 113.