What is a Doula All About

Benefits of a Doula

A doula is a labor support assistant who is not a mother’s partner and provides continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and support. She is dedicated to both mother and partner, helping them to understand and embrace their birth. Usually this person is a trained and experienced birth professional who supplies knowledge, employs various comfort techniques and utilizes a variety of tools to help guide parents towards a positive birth experience.

Benefits of having a Doula attended birth include:

  • Fewer medical complications (maternal bleeding, fever & infection)
  • Less instance of medical intervention (Episiotomy, IV, rupturing/stripping of membranes)
  • Lower use of induction/labor augmentation medications (pitocin, cytotec, cervidil)DEC Birth 4
  • Reduces risk for labor to end in surgical delivery (cesarean section)
  • Significant decrease in requests for medical pain management (epidurals & narcotics)
  • Decreased use of instrument delivery (vacuum & forceps extraction)
  • Less likely for baby to stay or visit the NICU after delivery
  • Lower risk of postpartum depression
  • Quicker and shorter labors
  • More likelihood of spontaneous labor and/or delivery
  • Increased confidence and comfort for mother and partner
  • Objective information and support on hand from experienced birth professional
  • Higher success rate for breastfeeding
  • Faster postpartum recovery
  • Much higher rate of satisfaction of the birth experience for mothers and their partners


What is a doula?

Giving birth to a baby is so much more than a physical phenomenon; it engages parents-to-be in a transformational experience, a key life event full of emotion and meaning.

A doula who accompanies a woman in labor mothers the mother, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A postpartum doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics.

Here is a great article from Mother’s Advocate about enlisting the support of a Doula for continuous Support.


DONA International doulas make the difference

DONA International doulas mother the mother
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.

DONA International doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.

Birth Doulas Make a Difference

The value of providing laboring women with continuous emotional support, physical comfort, and encouragement has been recognized worldwide.

Given the clear benefits and no known risks associated with intrapartum support, every effort should be made to ensure all laboring women receive support, not only from those close to them but also from specially trained caregivers. This support should include continuous presence, the provision of hands-on comfort, and encouragement. Hodnett, E.D. Support from caregivers during childbirth (Cochrane Review) in Cochrane Library, Issue 2. Oxford Update Software, 1998. Updated Quarterly.

A doula provides support consisting of praise, reassurance, measures to improve the comfort of the mother, physical contact such as rubbing the mother’s back and holding her hands, explanation of what is going on during labor and delivery and a constant friendly presence. Such tasks can also be fulfilled by a nurse or midwife, but they often need to perform technical/medical procedures that can distract their attention from the mother. Care in Normal Birth: a Practical Guide. Report of a Technical Working Group. World Health Organization, 1996.

Facing unprecedented pressures to reduce expenses, many hospitals are targeting the largest single budget item – labor costs… (An) unintended consequence of nursing cutbacks may be an increased cesarean rate; the inability of pared down nursing staff to provide continuous coverage to laboring mothers (has been) shown to increase the chance of a cesarean…Doulas clearly improve clinical and service quality; they provide an absolutely safe way to reduce cesareans and other invasive birthing interventions. Coming to Term: Innovations in Safely Reducing Cesarean Rates. Medical Leadership Council, Washington D.C. 1996

Professionals have paid much attention to innovative technology and the many new options for monitoring and managing labor. While the technology is important, it can become so prominent that clinicians ignore both the natural aspects of labor and the non-technical needs of women in labor… Changes that support the patient in labor and reinforce the natural, physiologic process…. Includes providing one-to-one psychological support for patients using nursing staff or doulas. Reducing the Cesarean Section Rates while Maintaining Maternal and Infant Outcomes. Bruce L. Flamm et al. Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston, 1997

Here is a great article from Mother’s Advocate about enlisting the support of a Doula for continuous Support.