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How a Doula Can Help During and After Childbirth

By Stacey Feintuch
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
September 01, 2022

Marissa Pressey, of San Diego, had a doula for the births of both of her two daughters. She still feels it was one of the better decisions she made about her deliveries. “[My doula] supported me along the way, helping me focus on my breathing and keeping my mind preoccupied during my contractions,” Marissa says.

For her second birth, Marissa faced a medical condition that meant she would most likely be unable to get an epidural to manage the pain. Her doula used essential oils, a birthing ball, and different positions to help her get through the discomfort of contractions. “I can’t even imagine doing the unmedicated birth without my doula.”

Marissa isn’t the only one singing the praises of doulas. Doulas are increasingly seen as an important addition to a positive birthing experience. A small 2013 study found that pregnant women who worked with a doula had better birth outcomes compared to those who didn’t. A 2017 review of several studies suggested that birthing people who received continuous labor support, such as that provided by a doula, had births with fewer interventions, shorter labors, and lower rates of postpartum depression compared to those without that type of support.