Word is not as uncommon as some would believe
With respect to an Aug. 6 letter, the “doula” is distinctly not an expert. The word could not be found in dictionaries of the English language because it’s Hindi.
As a “teacher of young children,” the letter writer would have done better to ask the mothers of his charges. The word has become common among adherents of natural childbirth, if not common enough to warrant inclusion in dictionaries.
The doula, of course, is an assistant or companion to the birth mother. The doula acts in the nature of a personal servant rather than assisting in the birth itself as would the midwife.
Theo M. Wender