What is a Doula?

The word "doula" comes from an ancient Greek word and is now used to refer to a woman who helps other women. It has been applied to childbirth to refer to "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after childbirth." (Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus, in Mothering the Mother).

A postpartum doula provides care to a family with a newborn baby.

A birth doula:
  • recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life
  • understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth
  • stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire labor
  • provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions
  • facilitates the communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical care providers
  • perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience

A birth doula DOES NOT:
  • "prescribe" treatment
  • perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, fetal heart tone checks, vaginal examinations, or postpartum clinical care
  • speak instead of a client or make decisions for a client

What is support?

Support is unconditional. It is listening, not judging, not telling your own story.
Support is not offering advice. It is offering a Kleenex, a touch, a hug...caring.
We are here to listen... not to work miracles.
We are here to help women discover what they are feeling... not to make the feelings go away.
We are here to help a woman identify her options... not to tell her which options to choose.
We are here to discuss steps with a woman... not to take steps for her.
We are here to help a woman discover her own strength... not to rescue her and leave her still vulnerable.
We are here to help a woman discover she can help herself... not to take responsibility for her.
We are here to help a woman learn to choose... not to make it unnecessary for her to make difficult choices.

~~ Anonymous ~~


When choosing to birth with a doula you are:
  • 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section
  • 41% less likely to give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
  • 28% less likely to use any analgesia or anesthesia and
  • 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their birth experience

Studies have also shown, on average, a 25% decrease in length of labor as compared with mothers who birthed without a doula.


**DONA International **