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I read some conflicting definitions of doula.

https://www.google.com/search?q=doula+meaning:

a woman, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labour. [Definitions from Oxford Languages · Learn more]

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/doula:

a person, usually a woman, who is not medically trained but who gives help and support to a woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth of her baby

Can a doula be a male? If not, or if doula is ambiguous, what is the male equivalent of it?

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  • Technically, "doula" is a female word from Greek (meaning "female slave"), the male equivalent of which is "doulos", although that doesn't seem to have made into English. Maybe start using it and it will!
    – ralph.m
    Commented May 26 at 3:27

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First off, this is a pretty rare word. I had to look up its meaning, and visit a the natural childbirth trust website to understand how it differed from "midwife" (another word that that you could ask about)

In principle there is no reason why a doula should not be male. Indeed while a doula does not need to be a member of an organisation, Doula UK welcomes male members.

However the vast majority of doulas are women, as most women who are giving birth and who hire a doula, choose to hire a woman.

The same, by the way, goes for "midwife". While literally it comes from old English "With woman" (and some argue that the "woman" is the woman giving birth, that doesn't really fit with Old English grammar) it could be used for both men and women, however it is another role that is overwhelming female.

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    Indeed, in the 18th century when (male) doctors began to attend problematic childbirths instead of leaving it to 'traditional' midwives, they were referred to as 'man-midwives'. Commented May 26 at 7:45
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    One hears and sees the word doula fairly often in the US in contexts where the word "midwife" would also be used: in maternity hospitals, at birthing classes for expectant couples, in articles on "natural childbirth", etc.
    – TimR
    Commented May 26 at 11:04
  • Google certainly gives results for "male doula" e.g. ABC and Fox News in the US, various discussion sites like Reddit.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 26 at 19:55

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