Labor & Delivery
A labor doula provides continuous care to a laboring woman, including physical, emotional, and informational support, before, during, and immediately after childbirth. Doulas can assist laboring women with comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, massage, movement, and positioning. Doulas may offer support during a vaginal or cesarean delivery.
Doulas do not offer medical advice but may facilitate positive communication between the healthcare provider and client by encouraging her and her family to give voice to their questions and concerns. Doulas can help both partners and providers to address and consider the woman's emotional needs, questions, and fears. Ultimately, doulas help facilitate a more positive birth experience for a woman and her partner.
An on-call doula is matched with a pregnant mother prenatally. The doula may accompany the woman to her prenatal visits and then commit to being present with the woman at her birth. On-call doulas may pair up with another doula to guarantee coverage.
The women who request doulas prenatally are often considered at high-risk because of emotional, social and sometimes medical factors, and they may include single moms, teens, homeless women, drug users, women with high anxiety levels and physical and/or sexual trauma histories.
A postpartum doula helps women who have recently given birth to transition to the postpartum period. The postpartum doula provides emotional and physical support such as listening to a birth story or helping with relaxation or massage. A doula also may provide information to the mother about caring for herself post delivery and caring for her newborn in the days and weeks to come. Doulas can also provide basic breastfeeding or bottlefeeding information and assistance.
A 5M (Women's Health Center) breastfeeding educator doula works with clinic staff to provide prenatal breastfeeding education. While a patient waits for her prenatal visit, a doula may provide a one to one education about breastfeeding and about the Birth Center at SFGH.