What Is A Birth Doula?


A birth doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” –Dona International

A birth doula provides the birthing woman and her partner with physical and emotional support they need to manage labor until their baby is born. Doulas suggest evidence based physical positions that give comfort to the laboring woman, as well as help with labor progression. A doula uses a hands on approach with giving verbal encouragement, comforting touch, counter pressure, deep breathing techniques, visual imagery, and much more. A doula also helps create a positive environment that is conducive to relaxation and where birth hormones can work effectively. In addition to the laboring woman, a birth doula is also helpful in equipping the woman’s partner to take an active part in the birth experience.

Whether a birth is unmedicated or has a high use of medical interventions, every birth experience can benefit from a doula.

What Would A Birth Doula Do?

  • Meet for a few prenatal visits and phone consultations

  • Labor support during active labor at home and the location of the birth

  • Support through the one hour following baby’s birth

  • A postpartum visit one week following the baby’s birth

Why Is A Birth Doula So Valuable?

Studies have shown that women who are supported emotionally during their labors by doulas are:

  • 28% less likely to give birth by cesarean section

  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor.

  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication

  • 34% less likely to rate their birth experience as negative

Check out DONA International's position paper about research findings on the role of birth doulas.