What is a Doula?

The term birth doula is used to describe a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support before, during, and the weeks following birth.

A birth doula helps a woman and her partner prepare for their birth as a life experience that will impact the rest of their lives. A doula understands and respects childbirth as well as the unique emotional needs of a laboring woman. A doula helps the birthing family develop their birth preferences by offering informational support.

During labor and childbirth, a birth doula “mothers the mother” by offering emotional and physical support unique to each laboring woman. A doula does not provide any clinical or medical care. Instead, she provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support throughout the entire labor and delivery. A doula also helps to facilitate strong communication between the birthing person and medical professionals.

Partners meet a laboring woman’s need for love, affection, and companionship and medical professionals meet her need for professional clinical and medical care. A doula meets a laboring woman’s need for constant reassurance, respect, comfort, and encouragement. This continuous support nurtures the woman and her partner’s memory of the birth experience.

Why hire a doula?

There are many benefits to having a doula attend your birth.  Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • increases positive feelings about the childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduces requests for pain medication and/or epidurals

Research also shows parents who receive doula support:

  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Have less postpartum depression
  • Have lower incidence of abuse