The word doula comes from the Greek word meaning “woman of service", and back when the term was created, it was used to identify the favorite female helper in the household.
Throughout time, birth has been attended by sympathetic women, a midwife, friend, or mother, or more commonly, all of the above.
In modern times, a doula is the term used to describe a labor support woman who helps a mother during labor with relaxation and pain relief, and also helps coach her partner in how to help during contractions. Birth doulas help educate and support women and their partners throughout pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
The many benefits of hiring a certified doula are recognized by the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
A certified doula’s skills include birth plan preparation, pain relief techniques, labor massage, relaxation techniques, effective positioning for labor and birth, acupressure points, optimal fetal positioning, visualization techniques, hydrotherapy, hospital advocacy, breastfeeding support, and much more.
Research conducted by Klaus, Kennell, & Klaus (1993, 2002) shows that a doula’s presence during labor and birth results in the following positive outcomes: