By Sarah Hodin, MPH, CD(DONA), LCCE

Introducing DONA International online data collection forms

As the largest doula training, certification, and membership organization in the world, DONA International is uniquely positioned to contribute knowledge about doulas and their impact on birthing families; and I would argue that it is our responsibility to do so. We humbly request that all DONA International members complete an online data collection form every time they serve a birth or postpartum client.

How to submit an online data collection form

To submit an online data collection form, simply log into the DONA member portal and select one of these buttons from the menu:

  • Birth Data Collection Form – Choose this option if you served as a birth doula for the client, or if you served as both a birth and postpartum doula for the client
  • Postpartum Data Collection Form –Choose this option if you were a postpartum doula for the client

Before you are taken to either the birth or postpartum data collection form, both of which are hosted on a secure, electronic data collection and analysis platform called Qualtrics, you will be asked to answer a few questions about yourself first. We have set this up so that after you answer the questions about yourself in the DONA member portal the first time, you will merely need to confirm that those answers are still accurate when you submit new data collection forms in the future.

This new infrastructure will allow us to analyze the survey results, examine possible correlations, and draw meaningful conclusions that will contribute significantly to the body of research on doulas and provide insights into how DONA International can best serve its members.

How the information will be used

We will also be able to share the results of the data with our members and answer many questions like:

  1. What is the breakdown of DONA International members according to race/ethnicity, languages spoken, levels of formal education achieved, and years of doula experience?
  2. Do the clients of DONA International members with more years of experience have better outcomes?
  3. What are the demographic characteristics of the clients that DONA International members serve?
  4. How many clients does the average DONA International member take on per month and how much do they tend to charge per client?
  5. How often do DONA International members attend home births?
  6. What are the cesarean section, induction, episiotomy, and epidural rates among DONA International births compared to national or state averages?
  7. Do clients of DONA International members have shorter labors than average?
  8.  How long are the typical shifts for postpartum doulas and for how many weeks do they work with any given client?
  9. Do the babies of DONA International member clients have better outcomes than average?
  10.  What impact do DONA International members have on breastfeeding?

In order to accurately answer questions about the doula workforce and the impact of birth and postpartum doulas on birthing families, the data we collect must be representative of the entire population of DONA doulas and the clients they serve. If only a small subset of DONA members completes the data collection forms—or if doulas submit the forms for some clients but not for others—the results will be skewed and potentially unusable. We need your help to make this research endeavor a success, thereby strengthening the evidence base for doulas to catalyze changes in maternal and newborn health policy.

The benefits of this information

If we are successful in this endeavor, DONA will have one of the most valuable data sources on doula care in the world. By participating, you will be playing a critical role in ensuring the growth and sustainability of the doula profession, ultimately bringing us closer to achieving our collective vision of a doula for everyone who wants one.

More questions?

The Advocacy Committee team has compiled a list of frequently asked questions that will be useful for your review as you get started with submitting your online data collection forms  You can access that here: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

If you still have questions after reading this blog and checking out the useful FAQ documentation, please reach out to the DONA Advocacy committee at for further clarification.

About Sarah Hodin

Sarah Hodin, MPH, CD(DONA), LCCE was the Director of Advocacy at DONA International from 2017-2018. After studying anthropology and African studies as an undergraduate, Sarah earned her Master’s in Public Health degree at Harvard University. Sarah currently manages maternal and newborn health programs for a large health care system based in the Boston area and runs a nonprofit called Nyora Beads in her spare time.