Who Does What at Your Birth?

There are lots of “players” at the typical hospital birth and it can become confusing when trying to understand who is responsible for what during the course of your labor and birth. It’s helpful to know, in advance, who to turn to for the many different needs that come up.

Inspired by one of our favorite Lamaze educators and Connecting the Dots blog manager, Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE, we created this simple chart to serve as your guide to the different roles of a doula, your partner/family/friend support person, the labor and delivery nurse, and your midwife or OB. You’ll see that sometimes, roles overlap and other times, they are clear cut. For example, one of the primary roles of a doula is to provide physical and emotional support, but sometimes a nurse can also provide this kind of support, though not consistently or continuously.  







Clinical/medical assessment, like vaginal exams and monitoring No No Yes Yes
Physical & emotional support Yes, continuously  Yes Sometimes  Infrequently
Administer/ recommend medication or medical treatment No No Yes Yes
Suggest position changes to progress labor or find comfort Yes Yes Yes Sometimes
Provide education/resources on labor, birth, medical procedures Yes Maybe Sometimes Sometimes
Tend to other families/patients during your labor No No Yes Yes
Make decisions about your care No Maybe (if in coordination with you prior or during labor) No No
Provide hands-on comfort strategies, like massage Yes Yes Infrequently  No
“Catch” your baby* No In some cases No (but in some unexpected cases, yes!) Yes

*Some providers encourage you to reach down and catch your own baby as you give birth. Talk to your provider if this is something you would like to participate in during your birth. 

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