What is a Doula?

The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek 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 Birth Doula

  • Recognizes birth as a significant 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, objective viewpoint, and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make good decisions
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and care providers
  • Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience

The Effects of Doula Support

  • Labors are shorter
  • There are fewer complications
  • Cesarean rates are reduced
  • Use of forceps is reduced
  • There is less need for oxytocin to speed up labor
  • Women request less pain medication and epidurals

Effects of Doula Support on the Mother

  • Greater satisfaction with childbirth
  • More positive assessments of their babies
  • Less postpartum depression

Effects of Doula Support on the Baby

  • Babies have shorter hospital stays and fewer admissions to special care nurseries
  • Babies breastfeed more easily
  • Mothers are more affectionate to their babies postpartum

The Benefit of Continuous Support in Labor is Recognized by:

  • The World Health Organization - The Medical Leadership Council (an organization of over 1200 U.S. hospitals)
  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

How Doulas Practice

  • Privately, hired directly by clients
  • As hospitals employees
  • As volunteers in community or hospital programs

DONA A non-profit organization incorporated in 1992 which trains and certifies doulas according to ethical standards. To locate a doula in your area or to find out about DONA approved training visit their web page at www.dona.org, e-mail at Doula@DONA.org or call (801) 756–7331.

For More Information

  • For Natalie’s birth doula availability and rate please contact her directly