Volunteer Doulas

Volunteer doulas staff our Hearts & Hands Program, which is free to women who deliver their babies at Hillcrest Medical Center.

They provide one-on-one emotional (non-clinical) support to women during childbirth, working alongside nurses, midwives and physicians.

Support may include providing massage, suggesting techniques for positioning or breathing, or other comfort measures. Long hours are possible because doula volunteers stay with a woman until her baby is born.

Training for Volunteer Doulas

No prior experience is necessary, but volunteers must go through a selection process and training, which includes:

  • Interview, health screening (including immunization history) and safety training through UC San Diego Health's Volunteer Services.
  • Two-day introductory doula training through the Hearts & Hands Program
  • Working with experienced mentor doulas until ready to work on your own


  • Emotional and physical stamina to attend long labors
  • Flexible schedule and the ability to work very long hours from time to time
  • At least 21 years of age

We ask our volunteers to sign up for a minimum of two on-call, 12-hour shifts per month. At any time during the shift, they can be called to the hospital when a mother requests a doula. The volunteer then stays with the mother throughout her labor and delivery until the baby is born. (She does not leave when the shift ends.)

The average time a doula stays at a birth is 10-12 hours, but it may be shorter or considerably longer. After a birth, a doula often needs to rest, so volunteering should be scheduled only when she doesn’t have other commitments near that time period.