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What Is a "Doula"?

Doula is an ancient Greek word that means “woman servant” but is known today as a “birth coach/ companion.” Doulas are trained professionals who provide emotional, physical, and informational support before, during, and after birth; they do not provide medical care. Though their roles often blend together, there are two main types of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas:


  • Have knowledge and understanding of the biological aspects of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery, as well as the emotional needs of a woman during each of those phases.

  • Help women (and their partners) prepare for birth as well as to clarify her birth wishes. This includes providing objective information so the she (or they) can make informed decisions.

  • Support the woman (and her partner) continuously throughout labor with physical comfort measures, relaxation techniques, and emotional support.

  • Facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and her care providers.

  • Allow the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level.


  • Offer information, companionship & encouragement during the postpartum “fourth trimester.”

  • Assist with baby care (including feeding support), family transition, light household tasks, meals, errands, etc.

  • Offer evidence-based information on the physical & emotional recovery from birth, providing referrals as needed.

“In clinical studies, the best results occurred when women had continuous labor support from a doula – someone who was NOT a staff member at the hospital and who was NOT part of the woman’s social network. When labor support was provided by a doula, women experienced a: 

  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin

  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief

  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery

  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience”

Research data from The Cochran Review. To read a summary of the study findings, visit:


  • Having a doula takes pressure off mom's partner, freeing him/her up to be a loving support and be supported him/herself.

  • You can call/text/email questions to your doula you wouldn’t want to bother your midwife/OB with.

  • Written birth plans often go unread - doulas can help remind and encourage respect of those wishes.

  • Doulas make great bouncers - they are committed to protecting your birth space before, during, and after baby arrives.

  • Sometimes visitors who come to “help” are really more like guests - doulas can help alleviate some daily tasks so mom feels free to relax and enjoy the people who want to love on her and baby.

​Additional resources on the nature of doulas & their many benefits can be found at the links below:
The American Pregnancy Association
DONA International's Essential Ingredient video
Happy Healthy Child doula video

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