Doula becoming a household name

May 22, 2010 (News Release) With the help of celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Kelly Ripa, and Cindy Crawford, doulas, non-medical birth and post-partum assistants, are becoming increasingly popular as a childbirth choice, and in recent weeks, as part of the health care reform dialogue. In the healthcare legislation recently passed in Congress, doulas are slated to receive $1.5 million for community run doula programs.

"We're thrilled that doulas are getting more recognition for the important work that they do and that so many people are now realizing the benefits that thousands of women have experienced for many years," said Susan Toffolon, President of DONA International.

The term "doula" comes from the Greek word for a woman who serves. A doula provides informational help, emotional support, physical comfort, and facilitates communication with caregivers. Couples appreciate the one-on-one time, focus and education they receive from a doula. Doulas assist couples in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Research shows women who use doulas have a significantly lower risk of cesarean, use of medication and other interventions, which helps to reduce rates of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. (The Doula Book, MH Klaus, JH Kennel, PH Klaus, 2002) During the postpartum period, doulas offer education, support and assistance with newborn care and family adjustment.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) inserted the funding for community doula programs into healthcare reform legislation citing the success of the Health Connect program in Chicago, a program that provides doulas to low-income families and teen clients at no cost.

"In Chicago, we have seen how the community-doula model can improve the odds for those young moms and their babies. The Chicago Health Connection [now HealthConnect One] pioneered this model. The group trained mentors from the community to work with at-risk moms, many of whom had few ideas of where else to turn. I am eager to see the Chicago Health Connection model successfully replicated and to make that happen, it is important that new programs have guidance and help to not reinvent the wheel," Senator Durbin said.

About DONA International

DONA International was founded in 1992 with the mission to provide training and certification opportunities for doulas of varied cultures, educational backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic levels. DONA International also seeks to educate health care providers, the public and third-party payers of the benefits of a doula's presence during childbirth and postpartum. For more information visit

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