1. What is a birth doula? A birth doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth
who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother
before, during and just after childbirth.
2. What effects does the presence of a doula have on birth outcomes? Numerous clinical
studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction
reduces the requests for pain medication and epidurals, as well as the incidence
3. What effects does the presence of a doula have on the mother? When a doula is present
during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience,
make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and requests
for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression.
4. What effects do the presence of doulas have on babies? Studies have shown that
babies born with doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions
to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mothers
in the postpartum period.
5. How do doulas practice? Doulas practice in three ways: privately hired directly
by clients, as hospital employees, and as volunteers in community or hospital programs.
6. Does a doula replace nursing staff? No. Doulas do not replace nurses or other
medical staff. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood
pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations
or providing postpartum clinical care. They are there to comfort and support the
mother and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals.
7. Does a doula make decisions on my behalf? A doula does not make decisions for clients
or intervene in their clinical care. She provides informational and emotional support,
while respecting a woman’s decisions.
8. Will a doula make my partner feel unnecessary? No, a doula is supportive to both
the mother and her partner, and plays a crucial role in helping a partner become
involved in the birth to the extent he/she feels comfortable.