There’s so much to do and remember in the months leading up to baby. Paint the nursery. Pick a stroller. Practice swaddling. The list goes on and on.

So if you hear the word “doula” and wonder if you can register for one of those, know that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. And we get by with a little help from our mommy friends.

By definition, a doula is: (noun) a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.

But what does that really mean? Is someone rubbing your back and feeding you ice chips during labor? We wanted to know more. So we took our questions to The Birth Boutique in Chicago where co-owners Lindsey Monroe, Jennifer Gold & Lauren Elliott gave us the inside scoop.

We learned that most women hire a doula because they want a positive birth experience. Makes total sense.

It all starts by making sure you feel heard and supported, confident in your choices and as prepared as you can be for delivery. When the day finally comes, you’ll have someone helping you through that “holy sh*t” moment when you think your water just broke. Someone helping ease the pain of labor with an arsenal of comfort methods. And someone making sure your transition into early motherhood is as smooth as possible.

We’re happy to report that doulas are available to support all types of births—from un-medicated births to epidurals, cesareans to VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), home-births and hospital births. But it’s worth noting that in most cases their services aren't covered by insurance.

Whatever your birth plan may be, if you’re considering a doula, it’s worth your while to meet in advance, ask questions and see if you have chemistry. Because on one of the most important days of you life, it’s going to matter.

Moms are most surprised to learn that a doula can help her find the strength she never knew she had.