What is a Doula?

What is a Doula?

The following is a student blog post by Amy Durham

A doula is a trained professional birth assistant. She provides mothers with emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum time period.  

A doula can also help mothers and their partners 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, and by giving her partner suggestions on how to be involved. 

Won’t a Nurse do that for Me?

Labor and delivery nurses are compassionate, hardworking individuals who provide quality support and care to their patients. Many people mistakenly believe however that a nurse will be by their side throughout labor to provide all of the physical and emotional comfort that they need.  But the truth is, nurses and doctors will all be attending to many patients, which means the time spent with you will be short.  Studies indicate that on average, the proportion of time that nurses spend in supportive comfort care versus all of their other responsibilities is approximately 6-9%. They have paperwork to complete, technical equipment to monitor, and medical tasks to attend to.  They will be in and out of your room, and there will be shift changes.  Only a doula will be by your side continuously from start to finish.


What are the Benefits of Having a Doula?

Having a doula assisted labor and birth has been scientifically proven 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. Study

What Can Doula Certification Offer Me_

“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 published by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine joint statement: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery

Are you interested in having a doula support you during pregnancy and birth?  Take a look around https://doulamatch.net/ to find a doula in your area

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

— Dr. John Kennell


Amy Durham is a birth doula in Northern Virginia.  She is the mother of 4 fun-loving children, and the wife to one supportive husband.  When she is not living the life of an on call doula, Amy enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, and drinking coffee in quaint cafes.  You can find Amy at www.mothernurtureva.com

All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content, these are done as part of the educational experience and we try to encourage students to use their voice and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
To learn more about our educational programs please visit www.birtharts.com

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