It is important for the doula to understand the difference between pre-labour and established labour. Women will often hear their Caregiver referring to both these terms, so you need to be able to recognize the difference, especially to avoid rushing into hospital too early. Established labour is commonly referred to as regular, rhythmical contractions, that are lasting longer, feeling stronger and with a shorter gap, over at least a couple of hours.
There are many variations in labour patterns. Every woman will have a different labour. The problem is that all midwives/doctors follow what the text book states, and whilst there is obviously some accuracy, there is very little, if any, understanding of intuitive birthing. An unborn baby cannot read the textbook! This is one of the most important roles for the doula. Not only to empower the birthing woman that every labour and birth is different and to trust your intuitive birthing body and baby, BUT also to negotiate and advocate on her behalf to massage some of the very rigid hospital policies and procedures so she can labour and birth in her own time, as long as it is safe for her and baby.