What is a Doula?

Q: What is a Doula?

A: A Doula is a trained professional birth assistant.

Doulas provide mothers with emotional, physical, educational and informational support during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum time period.

A doula can also help families prepare to welcome their baby by providing them with information and resources to plan for their birth.

During labor a doula provides non-medical assistance including comfort measures, pain relieving techniques, recommending labor positions, advice to help labor progress more quickly and easily, help with decision making, and by giving the partner suggestions on how to be involved.

What are the benefits of having a doula?

Having a doula assisted labor and birth has been proven by research to:

  • Reduce Cesarean rates by up to 60%
  • Reduce the use of Pitocin by 40%
  • Reduce the length of labor by 25%
  • Reduce requests for an epidural by 60%
  • Increase the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth (i.e. without forceps or vacuum) by 40%
  • Decrease the risk of newborns being admitted to the NICU
  • Increase 5 minute Apgar scores in newborns (rating of breathing, muscle tone, and heart rate)
  • Increase satisfaction in the overall birth experience
  • Improve the relationship between mom and partner.
  • More than twice as likely to be breastfeeding at 6 weeks. 

“Continuous labor support was most effective when the provider was NOT a part of the hospital staff and was NOT a part of the woman’s own social network.”  See the Report .

“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes and safely prevent a primary cesarean delivery, is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.” See the Report 


“If a Doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

Dr. John Kennell