What is a Birth Doula?

Doula is a Greek word meaning “woman’s servant”. She was originally the woman who helped the lady of the house through her childbearing years.

Today, the term doula is embraced to describe someone who provides non-clinical support and care to a woman (and her partner) during childbirth and in the postpartum period. She provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, objective viewpoints, and also helps the mother and partner obtain the information needed to make informed decisions. 

Why Hire a Birth Doula? 

Current research has shown us that using a professional birth doula during labour provides the following benefits:

For the Mother: 

  • Greater satisfaction with their birth experience
  • More positive assessments of their babies
  • Less postpartum depression

For the Family:

  •  Shorter hospital stays
  • Fewer admissions to special care nurseries
  • Babies breastfeed more easily
  • Mothers are more affectionate

For the Labour: 

  • Reduction in the length of labour by 25%
  • Fewer complications
  • Reduction in caesarean birth rates by 45%
  • Reduction in oxytocin use by 50%
  • Reduction in forceps use by 34%
  • Reduction in epidural requests by 10% - 60%
  • Reduction in analgesia use by 31%
Referenced from: Klaus et.al, (2002)
The Doula Book, Da Capo Press

Questions to Ask a Birth Doula

Most doulas offer a free initial consultation at a location and time of your convenience. Plan to interview at least two doulas, as it is important that you feel completely comfortable with your choice. Try to schedule your interviews close together so that you do not forget your previous interviews and you can compare and contrast. The interview is the doula's opportunity to demonstrate her personality and services and how she would best serve you. This is your opportunity to meet her and ask her questions. 

  • What is your philosophy about childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labour? 
  • How many prenatal visits do you provide?
  • At what point do you usually join women in labour?
  • Do you come to our home or meet us at the hospital?
  • Do you meet with us after the birth to review the labour and to answer questions?
  • What training have you had?
  • How long have you been a doula?
  • How many clients do you support per month?
  • Do you work with one or more back-up doulas (for times when you are not available?)
  • What is your fee? Do you offer payment plans?
  • What do your services include?
  • What is your refund policy?
  • May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
  • Can you provide references?