What is a Doula?

The word "doula" comes from ancient Greek and is now used to refer to someone experienced in childbirth. A doula provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth. A postpartum doula provides emotional and physical support during the postpartum period.

A Birth Doula:
  • Recognizes childbirth as a key experience that the mother will remember for the rest of her life.
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the family in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout labor
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical care providers
  • Encourages the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A Postpartum Doula:
  • Offers evidence-based information on breastfeeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth, infant soothing, and coping skills.
  • Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying.
Benefits of Having a Doula*:
  • 25% decrease in length of labor
  • 50% decrease in cesarean sections
  • 60% decrease in epidural use
  • 30% decrease in use of forceps and vacuum extractor
  • 40% decrease in use of pitocin
  • 30% decrease in use of narcotics
Long term benefits of using a Doula include*:
  • greater maternal satisfaction
  • reduced maternal postpartum depression
  • improved breastfeeding
  • better mother-infant interaction
*Compiled from "Mothering the Mother" by MH Klaus, JH Kennell and PH Klaus; Addison Wesley Publishing Co., 1993
copyright 2006-2009
Central Coast Doula Association • PO Box 3502, Santa Barbara, CA 93130 • (805) 202-3001 (voicemail)