The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek term meaning “a woman who serves.”  Until recent times, women learned about childbirth from their mothers and sisters.  Birth took place in the familiar comfort of home.  Family rituals and traditions ensured that women were confident in their ability to give birth, surrounded by family members and wise women who provided support and encouragement throughout labor and birth.

As birth moved into the hospital early in the 20th Century, women lost the valuable support and encouragement of women from their communities.  Nurses provided support, but they were often responsible for several laboring women and could not remain continuously at the bedside of only one woman.  Today, the word “doula” refers to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after birth.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend births, labors are shorter with fewer complications; there is a decrease in medical interventions including oxytocin (Pitocin), epidural anesthesia, caesarean sections, forceps and vacuum deliveries; babies are healthier and breastfeed more easily; and there is greater maternal satisfaction.

A Doula:

  • Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
  • Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
  • Stays with the woman throughout the labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
  • Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience

Benefits of Doula Assisted Births:

Natural Vaginal Delivery                         43% Increase

Cesarean Rate                                        50% Decrease

Epidural Requests                                   60% Decrease

Pain Medication                                       30% Decrease

Duration of Labor                                    25% Decrease

“I knew she was there and she just melted into the action, whispering in my ear, reminding me at every turn how strong I was and simply that I could do it.” – A new mother speaking of her doula

“Midwives Catch — Doulas Coach”