A doula is a trained companion who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion, or stillbirth. A doula may support the client’s partner, family, and friends. The doula’s goal and role is to help the client feel safe and comfortable, complementing the role of the healthcare professionals who provide the client’s medical care.
At San Francisco’s Black Infant Health Program, our Doulas offer culturally concordant peer-to-peer support that focuses on the perinatal year and the early months of parenting, a sensitive period in which families have a unique openness to change, learning, and growth. This represents a new approach to perinatal support: one that uses the power of relationships and the power of birth. The presence and involvement of the community-based doula at birth, and the flexibility in the scope of the role, distinguishes “community doulas” from all other home-visiting and fee-based and volunteer doula models.
Community doulas impact our city by providing birth support and growing the trust and involvement that encourages people to address their health, wellness, and family resiliency collectively.