is a Doula?
is Greek meaning: "mother's helper" or
"servant". A Doula is a non-medical
birth professional. Doulas provide non-medical
emotional and physical support in addition to your
doctor or midwife. They are found in
hospitals, birthing centers, and homebirths.
They work in co-operation with the doctor,
nurses, midwife, and the birthing woman's partner.
Doulas do not do physical exams or assess fetal or
maternal well-being (in a medical sense). A Doula
does provide support, give suggestions, and provide
comfort to both parents during the birth of their
baby. They also provide education in the
prenatal period, during labor and birth, and during the
postpartum period. In addition, they give you
the alternatives to standard obstetric procedure as
well as information about the risks and benefits of
such procedure, so that you may make informed
A Doula is a
health care professional who understands the natural
process of birth, helping the parents to understand
this process and works with them during labor and
delivery to create the most positive, healthy and
natural experience possible for the family. She
provides non-medical continuity of care for birthing
women and their partners, and eases the transition
from home to hospital or birth center. She
facilitates, offers words of encouragement, supports
and educates the couple, before, during and after
are the benefits of using a Doula?
shown the following benefits of having a Doula
present at birth:
reduction in c-section rates
- 25% shorter
reduction in epidural requests
reduction in pitocin use
reduction in analgesia use
reduction in forceps or vacuum deliveries
Women who have
used a Doula at birth are more satisfied with their
births, feel more confident before and after the
birth, show a quicker rate of bonding with their
newborn, are less likely to have postpartum
depression, and more likely to breastfeed.
services does a Labor Doula provide?
24/7 before and during labor to answer any
questions or concerns
and physical suggestions to make pregnancy
in finding information in order to help the
woman make an informed decision about her
of medical procedures
preparation of a birth plan and the carrying
out of that plan
of communication between the laboring woman,
her partner, and her care providers
physical and emotional support throughout the
entire labor and birth
understanding of the physiology of birth
other non-pharmacological pain relief measures
on position changes during labor and birth
the woman�s partner so that he or she can
love and encourage the laboring woman
woman avoid unnecessary interventions
the initial breastfeeding experience
record of the birth
of birth as a key life experience that the
mother will remember forever.
a Doula interfere with the father's role in the birth?
helps the father/woman�s partner feel comfortable
and confident by making sure his needs are met
(food, drink, occasional back rubs, and
reassurance). The Doula encourages the father
to participate at his own comfort level. She
also shows him what he can do to help. This
makes it so the woman and her partner can work more
closely together. Some partners prefer to be
there only to witness the birth of their child and
to share this experience with the woman they love.
They may not want to play an active role and
do not want to be responsible for the woman's
comfort and emotional security. The Doula can
fill in and allow the partner to participate as he
wishes, without leaving the woman's needs unmet.
When the partner chooses to be the major
source of emotional support, the Doula can
supplement his or her efforts by running errands,
making suggestions for comfort measures, and
offering words of reassurance and comfort. During
a long, tiring labor, she can give the partner a
break for a brief rest or change of scene. While
the Doula probably knows more than the partner about
birth, hospitals, and maternity care, the partner
knows more about the woman's personality, likes and
dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman
more than anyone else there. The combined
contributions of both partner and Doula, along with
a competent, considerate, and caring staff give the
woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.
More information on Dads &
does a Doula interact with hospital staff? Won't
my nurse fill this role?
Delivery nurses are usually providing care and
treatment for many patients at a time. This limits
the time spent with each individual patient. The
nurse�s main responsibility is to monitor the
progress of the laboring woman and give that
information to the care provider. A Doula will
provide you with continuous support throughout your
entire labor and help for some time after the birth
as you and your partner are adjusting to this
miracle called �birth�.
I need a Doula if I'm planning a homebirth and/or
am using a midwife?
never too many extra hands at a birth. So even
with a supportive midwife, you may still benefit
from a Doula's services. Some midwives provide
longer care and support of the birthing woman. Ask
your midwife how she feels about Doulas.
if I am planning on using medication or I have a
scheduled cesarean? What is a Doula's role
The role of
the Doula here is to give information to the woman
and/or couple to help them make the most informed
decision on their choices. A Doula should always
respect the choice of birth the woman and/couple
have chosen. If planning a medicated birth, the Doula
is an asset to the birthing team by helping the
woman labor comfortably until the medication can be
given and/or is necessary to the woman and help in
avoiding unnecessary interventions. The Doula
is also an asset when the woman is unable to receive
medication to achieve a comfortable and enjoyable
natural birth experience by offering support and
acting as an advocate. As well as avoiding
If you are
planning a c-section and or have an emergency
c-section, the Doula can provide support and also
act as an advocate for the birthing woman and/or
couple. You can have the Doula be an advocate
of what is called a family-centered cesarean birth:
partner with you (some facilities will allow
you to have more than one person).
the birth with the use of a mirror, if you
baby brought to you immediately.
of your hands freed to touch the baby.
your partner carry the baby to the warmer.
your partner can cut the cord.
pictures and video.
have more than one person in Recovery with
baby in the recovery room if you are
a Doula force her idea of a perfect birth on me?
helps with decision-making by asking and answering
questions that will ensure that the right
information is given to the woman or couple so that
they can make an informed decision. She may also
suggest alternatives for the couple to consider.
She does not, however, make decisions for the
couple or force her idea of a perfect birth on the
woman and/or couple. Her job is to help make the
woman�s idea of the perfect birth come to pass.
should I hire a Doula?
As I mentioned
before in the "What is a Doula?"
section, having a Doula present improves the outcome
for both mother and baby. Here is a newspaper
WOMEN FIND DOULAS HELPFUL DURING LABOR
WASHINGTON , DC --
had Doulas present during labor had significantly
less epidural use and were more likely to rate the
birth experience as positive than women who did
not, according to a study in the March issue of
Obstetrics & Gynecology. Doulas provide
praise, reassurance, comfort, and companionship to
women in labor. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente
Medical Care Program in Northern California
followed 314 randomly selected patients aged 18
years and older between May 1994 and December
1996. Of these patients, 149 had Doulas and 145
randomly assigned to either the Doula group or the
usual-care group. Women assigned to the usual-care
group received no special treatment. Telephone
interviews were conducted with the women four to
six weeks postpartum.
Of the women
with Doulas, 54% had an epidural compared to 66%
of those in the usual-care group. Regarding their
perceptions of the birth experience, a greater
percentage of the Doula group had a more positive
view: 82% rated the birth experience as positive
compared to only 67% of the usual-care group.
Nearly 47% felt they coped very well compared to
28%; 58% felt labor had a very positive effect on
their feelings as women compared to 44%; and 58%
felt labor had a very positive effect on their
perception of their bodies' strength and
performance compared to 41%. The study found no
significant difference in rates of cesarean,
vaginal forceps or vacuum delivery, pitocin use,
and postpartum depression. During the follow-up
interview, 96% of the women who had Doulas and 66%
of those in the usual-care group were interested
in having a Doula for their next birth.
much does a Doula cost?
are self-employed independent business women, their
charges are unique to themselves and the services
they provide, and especially the area of the country
they live in. Some Doulas charge a flat fee to cover
their entire services with your pregnancy and birth.
Others charge on a sliding scale, basing it on the
hours spent with your care.
I charge a reasonable flat fee with a deposit
required at the signing of the contract. Please
contact me for my current fee. Payment options
may be available.
medical insurance cover Doula services?
companies do not cover the cost of Doulas at
this time. However, studies are being done in
hopes of changing this. The presence of a Doula
does save money. Births attended by Doulas
could mean a $3500 savings for individual families
and therefore reflect a $2 billion annual reduction
in national medical care costs.
it be weird to have a stranger at such a private
moment as birth?
A Doula will
be no stranger by the time of the birth. She
will meet with you and your partner late in
pregnancy to discuss your birth plan and goals.
She will be familiar with your medical history and
will know what issues are important to you.
She will likely be less if a stranger to you than
your doctor or midwife and the many nurses that you
Doula's presence invade our privacy during the birth?
Can we ask her to leave for a few moments without
A Doula should
not take offense to this request. The role of the Doula
is to offer complete support to both woman and/or
couple. If your wish is to have the Doula leave for
a moment, it is a duty of a Doula to support you by
leaving the room.
do you travel to for a birth?
We travel to Aurora, Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Joliet, Plainfield, Plano, Sandwich,
Naperville, Lisle, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Sugar Grove, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Downers Grove, North
Aurora, Batavia, St. Charles, Geneva, Sycamore, Vill Park, & Hinsdale.
If you don't see your city or town listed, please contact
us for information.