What is a Doula?

"Doula" translates literally from ancient Greek to mean "woman's servant."  She provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother and her family during labor, delivery and in the immediate postpartum period.

Numerous studies revealed having a labor support person:

  • results in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one's childbirth experience
  • lessens the need for medical interventions (forceps, pitocin, vacuum extraction)
  • lowers the mother's request for pain medication and/or epidurals

It has also been shown that parents:

  • feel more prepared and secure
  • better adapt to the experience
  • have less difficulty breast feeding
  • feel more self-confidence
  • experience less postpartum depression

When hiring any labor support person, be sure to conduct a thorough interview. The initial consultation can take place over the phone, but be sure to interview your favorite candidates in person. Make sure that your choice is a good match for your family and personality. Here are some sample topics to cover:

  • training and education
  • philosophy of childbirth
  • location of services
  • role in labor
  • role in prenatal period
  • role in postpartum care
  • contact availability
  • references
  • fees
  • services provided
  • refund policy
  • backup plans

Her role may not end at birth. In some instances, she may be available to help with postpartum care for you and your baby, including family care such as preparing meals or even watching the baby at night to allow the mother some much-needed rest.

For more information or to locate a doula in your area, contact DONA International or browse our Provider Directory.


Hodnett ED. Continuity of caregivers for care during pregnancy and childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000062. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000062.

Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub2.

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