Updated November 2013

There are two types of doulas: A birth doula is a private support coach who can assist before and during labor. A postpartum doula can provide hands-on help at home, such as cooking and cleaning and caring for your baby. Some offer both types of services. 

How does a doula help?

Studies show that doulas can help reduce:

  • the time spent in labor
  • the need for pain medication
  • complications during birth 
  • Doulas also cut the rate of postpartum depression, and they boost baby-mommy bonding. 

Think you’d like to hire a doula? 

Ask potential doulas these questions:

Why did you decide to become a doula? (Does this doula’s personality and approach mesh with your own?)

How many births have you attended? How long have you been practicing? (Ask for referrals, in all cases.)

Are you available around my due date? Do you have a back-up on call? (Consider meeting and interviewing the back-up.)

When will you arrive—from labor’s first at-home pangs or when I meet you at the hospital or birth center? Do you offer any special services? (Some may provide massage, photography, aromatherapy, or other unique services—such as writing your birth story.)

What do you think of medication during birth? Would you support both medicated and non-medicated births? What’s your fee? (Your doula’s services may be reimbursable under your healthcare plan, or she might offer a payment plan or sliding-scale fees.)

Which hospitals and birth centers have you worked in? Have you worked with my midwife or physician before? What type of pre-labor and post-labor support do you provide? Do you offer labor simulation exercises or help with breastfeeding and baby care? (You want answers to all of these questions.)

Where can you find a doula?

You can find a doula through word-of-mouth recommendations from other moms, ads, and at the website for Doulas of North America, dona.org.