Doula is a Greek word referring to an experienced woman who helps other women. The word has now come to mean a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after childbirth.
~Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, Mothering the Mother, 1993
- Recognizes birth as a key life experience, understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
- Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out her plans for the birth
- Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the labor with no changes in shift
- Provides emotional support, practical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and information to aid decision-making
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical care providers
- Complements the care provided by the woman’s partner and birth attendants
The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.