The term comes from a Greek word meaning “to serve”. Birth doulas serve and support expectant women and their partners and families with the emotional and physical aspects of childbirth. Postpartum doulas serve and support after childbirth. Both birth and postpartum doulas can assist women and their families in getting information to make the very best health care decisions for themselves and their families.
A doula’s role fits perfectly into the modern childbirth scheme where health care providers cannot be 100% present to care for a woman’s emotional and physical needs during childbirth.
DONA International, a long respected doula membership and certifying organization, has outstanding information on the research studies conducted on the efficacy of doula care in childbirth. Those articles can be found here. These studies show that a doula’s presence has numerous positive health benefits for both mother and baby. Childbirth Connection, a national not-for-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality maternity care through consumer engagement and health system transformation has excellent information on the value and benefits of continuous labor support here.