We've heard it many times before: "my (spouse, mother, friend) is going to be my doula!" What could a doula possibly do when a birthing person has a great support team already? The answer to this is SO MUCH! A doula colleague of mine told me that she tells expecting birth partners that "You know your partner, I know birth" (original source of this quote is unknown, if you know who said this originally, please let me know so I can credit them!).
A doula's job is so much about supporting the laboring person, that it can be overlooked that a doula is there to support the family as well. An expecting dad might give the best foot massages in the world, but he might be intimidated by his lack of understanding of birth; If a labor is very long and emotionally exhausting, a birth partner might need the opportunity to step back, take an emotional breather, or maybe just a nap and a snack. Birth is an overwhelming time. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone involved. This is what doulas are for. A doula can explain a necessary medical procedure, why things are progressing in a certain way, ask pertinent questions, help a partner to provide support in an effective way, create a nonjudgemental sounding board, and provide an opportunity for a birthing person and their partner to make important decisions to have the best birth possible.