What is a Doula?

“When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change”

 - Marie Mongan

What is a Doula?

A doula is a professional who provides emotional support, physical comfort, practical assistance, and non-medical care to people and families as they navigate a myriad of life’s transitions. DASC doulas focus primarily on experiences surrounding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.

Doula support throughout conception, pregnancy, and the postpartum period helps families navigate these transitions into a new family state. While the timelines may overlap, birth and postpartum doulas often have very different areas of expertise and focus.

Birth Doulas

Birth Doulas provide comfort, information and resources throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. These doulas work with families building relationships so they can assist families as they map out the birth that they are hoping for. Often doulas cultivate their own circle of other birth professionals including chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc. that are available for referral purposes.

Postpartum Doulas

Postpartum Doulas support the entire family following birth through the fourth trimester (the twelve week recovery period after birth when rest, nourishment, and healing are the most important). The relationship with a postpartum doula begins in pregnancy and continues by way of education on newborn care, infant feeding, and support through physical recovery. Focused attention on the physical and emotional state after birth can assist with a healthy recovery from pregnancy; postpartum doulas can help ease the transition into this new family dynamic.

Birth Doulas

  • are also known as labor support
  • are a resource throughout pregnancy 
  • assist with creating a list of birth preferences
  • help with childbirth education
  • integrate support team members 
  • teach breathing and relaxation techniques
  • provide referrals to additional birth professionals

Postpartum Doulas

  • come to your home in the first days and weeks after birth
  • help the family learn to care for their baby and guide efforts at feeding baby
  • provide light household assistance, meal preparation, and run errands
  • assist with baby laundry
  • ensure family members are getting adequate rest
  • offer modalities for postpartum healing

What the Experts say

Research indicates that the presence of a doula:

  • decreases the need for cesarean by 50%
  • increases the chances of unmedicated birth 30 - 60%
  • decreases the length of labor by 25%
  • decreases the need for other interventions with mother and baby
  • increases the mother’s and father’s satisfaction with the experience
Family and Doula supporting laboring mother

"...every effort should be made to ensure that all labouring women receive support…this support should include continuous presence (when wished by the mother), the provision of hands-on comfort, and praise and encouragement.”

- A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Enkin, Keirse, Renfrew and Neilson

“Every woman needs not only the father and other chosen partner but also a nurturing, experienced person - a doula- who can calmly and skillfully help her cope with labor and be a reassuring and constant presence for both her and the father.”

- Mothering the Mother by Klaus, Kennel, & Klaus