A doula (DOO-luh) is a professional labor coach, who gives physical and emotional support to women during labor and delivery. They offer advice on breathing, relaxation, movement, and positioning. Doulas also give emotional support and comfort to women and their partners during labor and birth. Doulas and midwives often work together during a woman's labor. A recent study showed that continuous doula support during labor was linked to shorter labors and much lower use of:
- pain medicines
- oxytocin (ok-see-TOHS-uhn) (medicine to help labor progress)
- cesarean delivery
Check with your health insurance company to find out if they will cover the cost of a doula. When choosing a doula, find out if she is certified by Doulas of North America (DONA) or another professional group.