Having support while you're in labor and delivering your baby can be a very positive experience.
Your support person may be your partner, a loved one, or a friend. You may get support from hospital nurses, a midwife, or a birth coach, also known as a doula. Doulas give support but do not deliver the baby.
A support person can help you feel more control and less fear. And this can help you manage your pain better.
Studies show that women who have a support person by their side throughout labor and childbirth are more likely to:footnote 1
And you may get the most benefit by using a trained and experienced birth assistant, like a doula, whose only job is to give you constant support.
A doula doesn't provide medical care or deliver the baby. That's the job of your doctor or midwife. The doula's job is to help make your birth experience—and your partner's experience—the best it can be.
This can be especially helpful in a hospital setting, where labor and delivery nurses usually are busy with more than one patient.
Before you go to the hospital (or before your midwife arrives for a home birth), your doula can:
At the hospital, your doula can:
During a home birth, your doula may also:
There are several organizations that train and certify doulas. But there are doulas who don't have formal training.
To find a doula, start by getting recommendations from your doctor, birthing centers, and hospitals. Friends who have used doulas in the past may also help you find one. If you go to a childbirth education class, the class leader may have information about local doulas.
Organizations that train and certify doulas have websites you can look at. There you will find contact information for doulas in your area.
After you have a list of candidates, it's important to meet and interview them. You'll see how well the two of you connect. Find out how much training and experience the doula has. And ask about the cost.
Will insurance pay for a doula?
Some—but not all—insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost of a doula. Check with your insurance company to find out.
There may be a volunteer doula program in your area for women who can't afford to hire one. And some doulas offer a sliding fee scale, based on what a woman can afford.
Hodnett ED, et al. (2013). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (7). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5. Accessed July 18, 2014.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.