Doulas are non-clinical support professionals who provide support to families as they grow.

Birth doulas provide birth preparation and support, and postpartum doulas provide support to families adjusting to life with a new baby or babies.
Some doulas provide both of these services, and some doulas also provide parent education on childbirth, breastfeeding, or other topics.

What is a doula?

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What is a birth doula?

Birth doulas provide non-medical support (emotional, physical, and informational support) as families prepare for and give birth. Doulas provide care and support designed to:

  • increase your comfort during your birth process
  • reduce discomfort and risks by helping your birth to progress as normally as possible,
  • encourage you to actively participate in your care and advocate for yourself
  • support you in making decisions about your care that reflect your values and needs

Birth doulas are trained to provide unbiased and knowledgeable support in a variety of birth scenarios.  You can benefit from a doula regardless of what kind of birth you are planning!

What is a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doulas provide family support in the weeks after birth. This depends on the family's individual needs and may include any of the following or more:

  • newborn care education
  • emotional support
  • night support
  • feeding support
  • light household tasks

The postpartum doula serves as a knowledgeable resource and non-clinical guide to the new family as they navigate the early weeks of baby's life, helping parents become confident in their new roles.

What is a parent educator?

Parent Educators provide a variety of classes to help parents prepare for baby. These classes can include:

  • Childbirth Education
  • Breastfeeding Education
  • Newborn Care
  • Prenatal Fitness Classes

Some educators provide group classes while others may provide private or in-home classes. In addition, birth and postpartum doulas often provide parent education as part of their services

Physician and researcher Dr. John H. Kennell stated, “If a doula was a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

Who can become a doula?

Doulas come from every walk of life, and a variety of educational/training processes.  Look for a doula who can clearly explain the educational process they've taken, their specific philosophy and ethical code, and their experience.

What kind of education do doulas have?

Doulas have most often completed an in-person training course which includes instruction in physical, emotional, and informational support skills, as well as extensive reading and other types of continuing education.  There are currently over 80 different companies which train and offer graduation or certification credentials to doulas, with varying requirements.

How do I hire the right doula for my family?

Start by investigating the websites of doulas in your area. Read what doulas say about themselves, and consider whether they addresses your specific needs and values. Do they specialize in areas that interest you? Do they seem to have the amount of experience you would like your doula to have? Is their fee in your budget?

Then reach out to a handful of doulas whose websites appealed to you. Ask some specific questions, beginning with whether they are available for the timeframe you need a doula. Do they serve your geographic area or your birth site? Ask about training, experience, and back up in case they are unavailable. Clarify questions about fees as well.

Based on the replies you receive, arrange to meet two or three doulas for in person interviews. It is best if your partner is present, if applicable, as the doula will provide support and education to both of you.

Have more questions about doulas?

Check out our doula FAQ for more information.