This is a fifteenth century painting called The Birth of Mary by an unknown painter known only as “Master of the life of the Virgin” from Cologne. As you can see, St. Anne, Mary’s mother, is being attended by many doulas. Probably one of her women attendants is a midwife and the rest are doulas. You can’t tell from the picture which is the midwife. All of the women are assisting the new mother and her baby. It is a peaceful domestic scene of birth. The red bedspread and canopy show us how important this birth was.
Birth of the Virgin, a fresco by Juan de Borgoña, (1509-1511). This fresco can be found in the Chapter room of the Cathedral in Toledo. He was a Spanish painter, originally from northern France. In this picture you can see a tranquil postpartum scene. The mother has a halo and the baby girl has one as well. There are several doulas helping the new mother. One doula is feeding the mother. Another is holding the baby near the mother. A third gets ready to swaddle the baby when the mother is ready. You can see a tiny infant bed on the floor which looks just like an adult bed. While women assist the mother, men discuss the birth off to the side.
This is The Birth of Mary by Domenico Ghirlandiao (1449-1494 Florence). Notice how many doulas are attending the mother at her birth. One of them holds the new baby as another prepares the bath. Although this is supposed to show a Jewish birth taking place before the birth of Christ, notice how the painter depicts a scene more likely found in 15th Century Florence than in Biblical times. Ghirlandiao is showing us his birth culture and it involves doulas supporting the laboring woman.