What is a doula?

Doula [doo lah] comes from the Greek word meaning female slave/servant. This female servant probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing in the Greek household.

Today a doula is referred to as a labor support professional who provides continuous labor assistance to the expectant mother and her partner before, during, and shortly after childbirth. A doula understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. She provides physical comfort measures, emotional support, and an objective viewpoint in the birthing process. Birth is a significant life experience that one will always remember. A doula helps the mother and partner prepare for and carry out their birth plan. Whether one chooses a medicated, un-medicated, or cesarean birth, a doula can enhance the entire birth experience with the support she provides.

Benefits of having a doula

During Labor * Postpartum *
 > 25% Shorter length of labor
 > 40% Reduction in oxytocin use
 > 31% Reduction in analgesia use
 > 60% Reduction in epidurals
 > 40% Reduction in forceps delivery
 > 50% Reduction in cesarean rates
 > Improved breastfeeding
 > Increased parent-infant bonding
 > Increased maternal satisfaction with birth experience
 > Decreased postpartum depression


* Klaus, M.H., Kennell, J.H., & Klaus, P.H. (1993). Mothering the mother: How a doula can help you have a shorter, easier, and healthier birth.