What is a Doula?

A woman who helps other women…a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and after childbirth.
— The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth Marshall H. Klaus, MD, John H. Kennell, MD, and Phyllis H. Klaus, MFT, LMSW

A doula is a source of physical and emotional support, comfort, and education for a woman transitioning into motherhood. Education is provided in order to help mothers make informed decisions for herself and her baby in pregnancy, birth, as well as postpartum.

In birth - a doula provides continuous support, and holds the space. Doulas do not perform medical tasks, such as: cervical checks, checking heart rates, distributing or dosing medication, delivering babies, etc. They do provide judgement-free emotional support. They also do provide physical support and comfort measures, like: counter pressure, acupressure, massage, guidance with breathing for relaxation, and other techniques.

The incidence of complications has been shown to be substantially decreased with the presence of a doula.

A doula supported woman is:

  • 30% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to start or speed up labor
  • 50% less likely to have a cesarean section
  • 12% more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • 60% less likely to request epidural anesthesia
  • 30% less likely to request any pain medication
  • 40% less likely to have a forceps delivery
  • 14% less likely to have a newborn admitted to the special care nursery
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively

as well as:

  • 25% decrease in the length of labor
  • Greater breastfeeding success
  • An overall reduction in medical costs

A postpartum doula provides much of the same support, but in the aftermath. Emotional support is provided. Physical support is provided, but more in way of actual physical duties - this gives the new mother much needed time to rest and bond with her new baby. Education is provided to help mothers embark on their new journey confidently, equipped with the knowledge to help see them through.