Some doulas provide support after the baby is born.
Unlike a midwife, a doula does not offer medical support.
"I do not deliver babies," says Antonette Hoffman-Robinson, a doula in Hagerstown.
Instead, a doula is more of a coach, a person there to remind you of all those techniques you learned when you're in labor, when the focus shifts to getting that baby out by any means necessary, Hoffman-Robinson says.
A doula can cost any where between a couple hundred dollars to thousands, says Frederick County, Md., doula Nicole Kosineski.
They receive certification from groups such as Doulas of North America (DONA), which require would-be doulas to have experienced labor as a nurse, have midwife training or attend a series of classes on childbirth - not as an expectant parent - in addition to attending a DONA-approved workshop.
Kosineski says she became a doula because of the experience she had with a doula while she was pregnant with her first child.
"She was my rock," Kosineski says.
Hoffman-Robinson says she became a doula because she did not get the type of childbirth she wanted when she delivered her son Baylin, who is now 2. Hoffman-Robinson had a C-section, which she felt was unnecessary. If she could do it over, she says she would have had a natural birth. She would have hired a doula.
"You need an advocate to help give you the birth you say you wanted," Hoffman-Robinson says.
Doulas aren't advocates for a particular birthing style, Hoffman-Robinson says. Still, doulas find themselves fighting the perception that they want to force natural births on their clients. Hoffman-Robinson and Kosineski say they have clients who have had medicated births, a decision they support.
By explaining to a pregnant client all the options, the woman will be better able to make informed decisions about delivering her baby, Hoffman-Robinson and Kosineski say. The doula is supposed to support a client's decision.
"To force natural births, that would go against the point of what we're trying to do - empower women," Kosineski says.
Durf says she wants to have her baby at home, with a midwife. Her doula, Hoffman-Robinson, will be at her side.
"It's nice to have someone there, who's there just for you," Durf says.