What is a community based doula? A community based doula works with clients who are typically young in age, of low income and have little to no support. Community based doulas meet with their clients several months before birth, attend the birth and meet in the weeks to months following the birth. They develop a strong relationship with the client due to the fact that the doula is typically their only support. During their visits, these doulas discuss topics ranging from birth and breastfeeding to bonding with the baby, something that many of us take for granted. They also tend to collaborate with other community programs to provide greater support and aid for their clients.

A pilot program offering community based doulas in Indiana found that these support professionals “improve access to early and regular care, improve continuity of care, increase breastfeeding, improve mother-infant bonding, reduce medical interventions, and detect and reduce post-partum depression.” They also had very impressive statistics stating that “93% of clients did not use tobacco during their pregnancy, 91% of clients had a full-term pregnancy, 76% of clients gave birth vaginally and 28% without an epidural, 91% of babies were born at a normal birth weight, and 85% of clients initiated breastfeeding.” Learn more about the pilot and its results here.

Providing support to these women during such a special, and often stressful, time is important. Many women who choose to become community based doulas have either been through a similar situation or have a heart for women in crisis. The work community doulas do is so important and this form of support for birthing families can be valuable in any community.

This article was originally published in the July 2014 DONA International eDoula. Our thanks to Brandy Earls, CD(DONA) for the contribution.