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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2005
Contact: Sandra Whitehead
DONA International Media Relations/Creatonomy
(414) 223-7500, ext. 125

DONA International embraces role as world’s leading doula organization

Association celebrates International Doula Month with a new name

The world’s oldest and largest association of doulas goes international in name and deed May 15, during International Doula Month.

The new name – DONA International – indicates the organization’s expanded scope and purpose, organization leaders say. Formerly known by the acronym D.O.N.A. for Doulas of North America, DONA International will use the word “DONA” to honor the founders’ role in nurturing the doula profession and starting the profession’s leading organization. The word “International” is added to recognize the scope of its membership and impact.

Announcing the new name in May, when the world is encouraged to recognize the contribution of doulas, seems appropriate, says DONA International President Ann Grauer. The new name is being formally announced May 15 in the premier issue of eDoula, the organization’s new email newsletter that will be distributed monthly to members worldwide.

“Our borders have never really been limited to North America,” says DONA International President Ann Grauer. “We’re changing our name to embrace who we are, to recognize we are truly about birthing women and new families everywhere. As an international organization with members in more than 20 countries around the world, we can learn from each other. Doulas and birthing families everywhere will be able to access culturally sensitive support that DONA International can provide.

“Changing our name allows us to honor our past and celebrate our future. We are excited about the growth in doula care around the world and are proud to be the leaders in doula care.”

DONA International is the leading association in the world representing doulas. Doulas provide advocacy and emotional, physical and informational support to women and childbearing families before, during and after birth, and during the “fourth trimester,” the first three months after birth.

DONA International provides educational opportunities and a meaningful certification process that is a widely respected measure of quality and professionalism.

Drs. Marshall Klaus and John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus C.S.W., M.F.C.C., Penny Simkin, PT, and Annie Kennedy, all renowned experts in childbirth and newborns, founded DONA International in 1992. Their goal was to promote doula care – continuous emotional and physical support for women during labor and early postpartum.

DONA International’s founders were instrumental in launching the modern doula profession. In the late 1980s, Drs. Klaus and Kennell discovered the obstetrical complications of labor were remarkably reduced if a laboring woman had continuous emotional and physical support from another woman. (Additional research supports their findings.) The studies show if a mother has had continuous support by a doula during labor: cesarean births are reduced, length of labor is shorter, and the use of pain medications, forceps or vacuum extraction, pitocin and epidurals are reduced. Care by the father alone does not reduce labor complications. However, doulas do not replace a woman's partner. Doulas support both parents, encouraging women's partners to participate to the degree they feel comfortable.

Convinced by the evidence of the benefits of doulas, the founders started DONA International with the aim of making it possible for any woman who wants a doula to have one.

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