What is a Doula and what do they do?

The definition of the term ‘Doula’ has evolved from the Ancient Greek δούλη (doulē).  A ‘Doula’ now refers to a woman performing professional perinatal support to Mothers and families.

A Doula is a birth assistant who provides various forms of non-medical support throughout the childbirth process. Based on each particular Doula’s training and background this support can range from massage and other types of alternative therapy, nutritional information, breast feeding support, among other things.

A birth Doula may attend a home birth or might attend the Mother during labour at home and continue while in transport and then complete supporting the birth at a hospital or a birth center.

A postnatal Doula typically begins providing care in the home after the birth. Such care might include cooking for the mother, breastfeeding support, newborn care assistance, errands, light housekeeping, etc.

Doula Statistics:

  • Shorten first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • Decrease the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • Decrease the need for pain medication
  • Help Fathers participate with confidence
  • Increase success in breastfeeding

Findings from “Mothering the Mother”
Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993

  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in synthetic oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery

Information was obtained from Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can HelpYou Have a Shorter Easier and Healthier Birth, Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993).

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