World Doula Week: How doulas help

Attalia Gray
SVP of Growth
at Delfina
min read

The U.S. maternal health crisis is a big and complex problem, and it likely won’t be solved by any one intervention. But over the last few years, OBGYNs, healthcare advocates, and even the Biden administration have identified a group that might be able to help: doulas. 

According to DONA International, the world’s leading doula certification organization, a doula is “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to their client before, during and shortly after childbirth to help them achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.” Doulas aren’t clinical supports—they don’t have the medical education of a doctor or a nurse—but they’re trained to help people navigate their pregnancies and births in a healthy and empowering way. Doulas provide services like assistance in creating a birth plan, teaching breathing techniques and birthing positions, and even being present during the birth for physical and emotional support. 

Studies show that doulas do make a difference, especially for people who are more at risk for adverse birth outcomes: mothers who were paired with doulas were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby and were two times less likely to experience other pregnancy complications. 

Doulas also help reduce racial disparities in pregnancy outcomes. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women and report experiencing mistreatment and negligence from their providers at higher rates. Because of this, it can be incredibly beneficial to have a supporter in the delivery room who can help advocate for your needs. Doulas can also offer personalized education, and can help you understand what’s normal during and after birth and what should set off alarm bells.

So why work with a doula? If you’re pregnant and considering doula support, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do I want someone who can advocate for me? A doula’s job is to communicate what you want as the birthing person to your birth team, such as your OBGYN, labor and delivery nurses, or other specialists. If you want someone who can advocate for you while you’re busy laboring or just want backup to make sure your needs are taken into account, a doula could help.  
  2. Who do I want in the room with me while I give birth? Many people appreciate having a doula in the room with them when they give birth, but this is totally up to you. If you don’t want your doula in the room and just want added support while you prepare for pregnancy, that’s fine! But when you’re considering working with a doula, think about what you want your birth experience to look like.
  3. Do I want more personalized support and education on what to expect? Sometimes, the amount of information and recommendations during pregnancy can be overwhelming. A doula can help you cut through that noise and zero in on what advice works for you. 
  4. Do I want a little extra emotional support? Doulas are a shoulder to learn on before, during, and after birth—that’s their whole job! They’ve worked with people through the ups and the downs, and they know how to ground you when it all starts to feel like too much. 
  5. Do I live in a state where some form of insurance covers doulas, or do I have the money to pay a doula out-of-pocket? Up until recently, doulas were a completely out-of-pocket expense, meaning that insurance wouldn’t cover them. However, some states have expanded Medicaid coverage to reimburse some doula fees, and some private insurance is also moving that way. 

For World Doula Awareness Week, we recognize the many wonderful doulas who work with us as Delfina Guides. If you’re a Delfina user, you gain access to virtual doula care from our Delfina Guides, who help users navigate our AI-optimized care platform and support them through their pregnancy journeys. 

Pregnancy can be overwhelming, and through connected care, Delfina hopes to make it a little easier. Contact us to learn more about our app. 

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