A better birth experience: How a doula can help

March 26, 2024

If you've had a difficult birth experience in the past, or if your first pregnancy had complications, you might be feeling nervous or unsure about what to expect this time around. That's completely normal. Having a baby is a big event, and it's okay to want things to go smoothly this time.

This is where a doula can make a difference. A doula is a trained professional who provides emotional, physical, and informational support to families before, during, and after childbirth. Think of them as your personal birth coach – someone who's there for you every step of the way.

Here's how a doula can help you have a more positive experience this time:

Emotional support: Doulas understand that birth is an emotional rollercoaster. They can listen to your fears and concerns and offer reassurance and encouragement. They can also help your partner feel more involved and prepared for when the baby arrives.

Physical comfort: During labor, a doula can help you manage pain with massage, breathing exercises, and different positions. They can also help create a calm and relaxing environment for you to focus on while laboring.

Information and advocacy: Doulas have lots of knowledge about pregnancy, labor, and birth. They can answer your questions, explain what's happening during labor, and help you make informed decisions. They can also act as your advocate, making sure your birth plan is shared with your medical team.

Adding a doula into your birth plan

Doulas are not medical professionals. They can't deliver babies or give medical advice. However, they can work alongside your prenatal care provider, whether that’s a doctor or midwife, to provide additional support. Most doula services come with a fee, but some hospitals and insurance plans might cover the cost.

The best time to start thinking about a doula is early in your pregnancy. Talk to your prenatal care provider about their experience with doulas and get recommendations. Once you've found a doula you feel comfortable with, meet with them to discuss your birth plan and expectations. A doula will work with you to create a plan that reflects your needs and preferences.

March of Dimes’ work to expand doula access and awareness has been provided in part by CVS Health Foundation.


DONA International

National Black Doulas Association

Postpartum Support International: Birth and Postpartum Doulas