A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. This includes preparation for birth, helping the laboring woman with encouragement, comfort measures, relaxation techniques, and an objective viewpoint, as well as support after childbirth, such as help with breastfeeding. Trained doulas understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. Doulas believe that pregnancy and birth are normal, natural and healthy processes.
Studies have shown that women supported by a doula during labor are:
- less likely to give birth by cesarean section
- less likely to use any analgesia or anesthesia (including epidural)
- less likely to give birth with forceps or vacuum extractor
- less likely to be dissatisfied or negatively rate their birth experience
(Findings of Hodnett’s et al meta-analysis of 15 trials of continuous labor support from N. America, Europe, and Africa)
Certified Birth Doulas: have completed the requirements for certification through one of the prominent doula training organizations. For more information about certification requirements for each organization, please visit DONA International, CAPPA or ALACE.
Trained Birth Doulas: have attended training, but have not completed the requirements for certification. Each birth professional has her own unique level of training and experience, so please inquire with individuals for more information.