Gentle Birth Companions

Thinking of working as a doula? Are you a parent looking for doula support?

Gentle Birth Companions offers a comprehensive account of the doula movement in UK & Europe, outlining the history and politics of the childbirth companion and exploring the essence of her modern role. Discussion on the issues of doula training & regulation, the differences between midwives and doulas, some lively real-life doula stories, plus many useful resources are included.

Now available in revised edition, with up to date resources and additional discussion around emotional wellbeing through pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. For ordering information, see the bottom of this page.

Scroll down to find out what others have said about this book.

FRENCH edition:

Published in French as ‘Les Doulas, une présence tout en douceur à la naissance’ (Le Souffle d’Or, 2012)

ENGLISH edition:


“… if you want a book on the anthropology of doulaing, this is it. … whether you are a new doula, experienced birthworker or parent, this book will give you food for your soul. Gentle Birth Companions is the first and greatest UK book on doulas.”

Maddie McMahon 2015, course leader at Developing Doulas, breastfeeding counsellor, author of ‘Why Doulas Matter’

“… captures the heart, passion and sacred path that doulas hold in supporting women and their families through out time. The perfect blend of her-story with science, showing the doulas role and importance today as she helps us re-discover the value of female companionship during childbirth. If you are pregnant, thinking of hiring a doula, becoming a doula or are involved in maternity care today, Adela’s book is essential to help you reconnect the circle of support in childbirth that provides an essential ingredient for a safe, fulfilling birth experience.”                                                                                                                                          Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Director/Co-Author of Orgasmic Birth, DONA Trainer, Lamaze Childbirth Educator

“I would recommend this book to everyone interested in exploring the doula phenomenon.”                 Elizabeth Worley for Royal College of Midwives, (Page 44)

“… refreshingly educational rather than purely descriptive. .. Adela does not shy away from thought provoking questions. .. a fair balance of being research and evidence based but also friendly and accessible .. worthwhile read for professionals and expecting mothers alike.”
Sarah Buchanan, Natural Childbirth,…

“…essential information about the role of the doula for mothers, fathers, babies and families wanting to make gentle choices in pregnancy, labour and birth. For birth professionals, Adela’s excellent summary of doula history and the scope of doula practice in modern Europe will be useful and illuminating. Highly recommended.”
Dr Sarah Buckley, author of ‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering’, GP/Family Physician

“I love your book and lend it to clients.”
Heidi Jones, doula, Australia

“…this book reaches deep in its content. Adela draws on her background as an NHS midwife, and explores the role of the doula in the UK and throughout the world. …conveys the essence of doulaing as well as discussing complex issues such as doula ‘training’ and regulation for a role that is embodied rather than a ‘professional’ one. …the doula stories ..are a key aspect of doulaing and provide the ability to keep reflecting and gain new understanding…the presentation of research in such a clear, structured way was equally relevant.  An excellent book to bridge knowledge and hearts .. useful for fellow doulas, health professionals as well as couples considering a doula.”
Avni Trivedi, co-editor of Doulaing, the Doula UK newsletter

“..we see how the help that doulas offer is not really a matter of ‘training’, but of personality, and that everything depends on the quality of human relationships. …an excellent introduction for anyone considering becoming a doula and basis for preparation and reflection on good practice.”
Sheila Kitzinger, founder of Birth Companions, author of ‘Birth Crisis’

“…an excellent look at the “politics” of the doula movement and the professionalization and motivations of such, as well as at the role and purpose of the doula in women’s lives.”
Molly Remer,

“… a thoughtful, enlightening analysis of the fast-growing worldwide phenomenon called the doula, who may represent the most significant positive influence in re-humanizing childbirth. Adela traces the organic growth of the international doula movement – a grassroots reaction against maternity care that devalues the mother’s emotional and spiritual experience and harms women… should be read by anyone who is connected with childbirth in a personal or professional way.”
Penny Simkin, co-founder of DONA International, author of ‘The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions’

“Brilliant book, read it in a day and found it very difficult to put down despite a hungry baby daughter yelling at me! Has convinced me even further that I want to become a doula and is packed full of information and wisdom. I feel all warm and glowy having read it, a great book, would highly recommend.”
A mother (AOC), via Amazon reviews

“This is the doula book that I have been waiting for … essential reading for everyone wanting to know about, or become a doula, (and with) clear tribute to all the many midwives across the world who provide outstanding care. I hope that Gentle Birth Companions opens doors for doulas, so that they can respectfully work alongside maternity carers in providing wholesome support for women and their families during the childbirth year.”
Vida Rye, founding member of Doula UK

“Thank you Adela for a lively historical journey through the new and yet ageless doula movement; a beautiful, subtle and accurate description of what a doula is really about. This book is a must for all would-be doulas and for future parents seeking that special ‘tender loving support’ around childbirth that is desperately missing nowadays.”
Valérie Dupin, Co-Présidente de l’Association Doulas de France

“…a very welcome addition to current birth literature. Adela chronicles the history and evolution of the modern doula, bringing much needed clarity to the role of the doula for health professionals and parents. With the thoughtful observations and inspiration for doulas everywhere, Doula UK is delighted to be associated with Gentle Birth Companions.”
Bridget Baker, former co-chair of Doula UK

“Adela Stockton engages the reader with this thoughtful, accessible, and well-researched account of the doula movement: its evolution, its current form, and its possible future role in birth care provision. A book like this is long overdue, and should be required reading for anyone interested in supporting women during the childbearing year.”
Leah Hazard, former doula, midwife, author of ‘The Father’s Home Birth Handbook’

“…an exemplary exploration of how women have provided empathetic support for each other during birth since the beginning of time. I am overjoyed at the author’s loving, thorough and inclusive (yes doulas support fathers too) treatment of the subject matter. She establishes doulas’ historical and cultural context, their local and global significance and the modern implications of their vocation. This is a warm, engaging and comprehensive book in which parents and birthcare professionals alike can find support.”
Patrick M. Houser, author of ‘Fathers-To-Be Handbook’, director

“I attended a beautiful, challenging and wonderfully successful VBAC today. I took Gentle Birth Companions with me, as I had a feeling reading in the corner was going to be my role in the early stages. It was, and although I had read the book once already, to read it cover to cover in this sacred space was exactly what was needed. Thank you for this much needed, simple journey into the emerging role of the doula. It helps also for me to explore in myself where we are in Holland as doulas, and where we want to go.”
Jennifer Walker, experienced doula, Amsterdam

“It’s everything we have needed from a book about doulas. Simple, lovingly written and inspiring. I read ‘Birth Space, Safe Place’ last year and to be honest … your messages and beliefs have really inspired me to begin my Doula-Journey. This will hopefully last a lifetime. I really want to be a part of something revolutionary.”
A new Mindful Doula, Stirling

“I have just finished reading Adela’s book, having started it late last night.  I need to share, its amazing, it says the things I want to hear, it lets me know that the journey will not be easy and yet I still can’t wait to take more steps.”
Zoe, new doula at Developing Doulas



To order your revised edition of this book, see here.

Any queries, please get in touch!