Any woman delivering with UC San Diego Health can request an on-call volunteer doula through the Hearts & Hands Program. This is a free service, and hospital staff can call for a doula at a mother's request at any hour.
Doulas are a helpful addition at any kind of birth, including induced labors and C-section births. When a doula is called in for a mother-to-be, she stays with her continuously until her baby is born, no matter how long it takes and regardless of whether pain medications (including epidurals) are used or whether complications develop. Our doulas attend births in both La Jolla or Hillcrest, in
Labor & Delivery or our La Jolla Birth Center, and with midwives or physicians.
What Is a Doula?
A doula is trained to give one-on-one support to women in labor. She provides non-medical physical and emotional care to the birthing mother and may also lend a hand with communications between the mother, her family and the hospital staff.
Doulas are not midwives (see
Midwifery Service for information on delivering with a midwife), and do not replace the mother's partner. A doula's expertise is in offering comfort and reassurance. Her care helps a laboring woman to feel safe and confident throughout labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum period. By assisting with comfort measures a doula can also help the mother’s partner play an active support role at the level he or she is confident.
Doula care during birth often includes:
- Walking assistance
- Help with breathing techniques
- Positioning assistance
- Verbal reassurance and comfort
- Spouse or partner guidance
Benefits of Doula Care
Studies have shown that doula care can decrease:
- Length of labor
- Use of epidurals and other medications
- C-section rates
While nurses, doctors and midwives change shifts and must come and go to attend to other patients, our doulas remain with the woman in labor and her family continuously until her baby is born. Our physicians, midwives and nurses welcome doulas in labor rooms, and Hearts & Hands doulas are accustomed to the hospital's procedures and facilities.
A doula's presence also helps partners participate at their own comfort level, assists busy hospital staff, and greatly increases a mother’s overall satisfaction with her birthing experience.