Doulas are healthcare professionals who are trained to provide physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and after labor.
How can doulas help?
Throughout pregnancy, doulas can help prepare you for labor and birth, answer your questions about the process, and ensure you’re aware of all your options before the big day. Throughout it all, they’re there to support the decisions you make for yourself, your birth, and your baby.
Doulas can help you to advocate for the kind of care you want and need. Self-advocacy is incredibly important when it comes to medical care in general, and especially if you experience a medical professional who is not listening to your needs or is not taking your pain seriously.
Doulas can be great advocates — they can help support you, communicate your needs, and make sure you’re heard. Ideally, you’ll be working with your doula for some time before birth, so you’ll be comfortable speaking with them honestly.
Research shows that doulas can help lead to better health outcomes. Those who work with doulas are less likely to experience complications, are less likely to have a baby with low birth weight, and have higher rates of breastfeeding/lactation.
During labor, a doula will help you position your body to find more comfort as labor progresses and offer hands-on guidance to provide relief and promote calm. And at every step, they’ll help you communicate with your healthcare provider to ensure that you’re feeling informed and in control. Because you might not have the same provider during delivery as you did during pregnancy, your doula can serve as a great source of consistency and stability.
Doulas can also support you postpartum as your body recovers, as you learn to feed and care for your baby, and as you adjust to this major transition.
Why it’s important to find a doula who gets you
Working with a doula has some major benefits, but how can you choose one who’ll be best for you?
Often finding a doula who you feel you can connect with and speak with honesty — is the best choice.
Doulas can play a role in promoting birth equity
Health inequities in the U.S. disproportionately affect Black birthing people and families, who experience devastating maternal and infant health outcomes more frequently than their non-Black counterparts. Racism and unconscious bias in the healthcare system are major issues driving limited access to care, dismissal of pain, and higher rates of underlying health conditions. Doulas can play a role in improving birth equity. Plus, there are doula groups run by and for Black women and birthing people that are designed with their needs in mind within their networks of support.
Searching for a good fit?
If you’re looking for a doula, check out these online directories to help you find one in your area:
You deserve support
If you’re having trouble finding a doula who feels right, try asking your healthcare provider for a recommendation. Additionally, some healthcare offices and community clinics may be able to connect you with birth workers in your community.
It’s important to know that most insurance payers do not cover doula services. Many student doulas offer free or discounted services, and some offer sliding scale options and payment plans to increase accessibility. Be sure to explore these options.
If you’re interested in doula services, start your search today. You deserve to have the support of a full care team.
- Kenneth J. Gruber, Susan H. Cupito, Christina F. Dobson. “Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes.” The Journal of Perinatal Education. 22(1): 49-58. Winter 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647727/.
- “Find a Doula.” DONA International. DONA International. https://www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/find-a-doula/.
- “Obstetric Care Consensus: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2016. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/obstetric-care-consensus/articles/2014/03/safe-prevention-of-the-primary-cesarean-delivery.