Doulas are female volunteers from the community who receive training to provide practical and emotional support to pregnant women and their families before, during, and after birth. Doulas are an addition to the support women receive from nurses, case managers, pregnancy care managers, mentors, and family.
Research indicates that moms who have access to doulas have less medically complicated labors, lower rates of cesarean births, decreased length of labor, decreased maternal depression, higher rates of breastfeeding, more positive birth experiences, and healthier birth spacing. Among YWCA participants, working with a doula has led to improved birth outcomes, reduced cesarean births, and increased rates of breastfeeding. Since 2008, 99% of participants matched with a doula have delivered healthy birth weight babies, far higher than county data would predict.