Doulas help mothers, babies and families before, during and after childbirth

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, previously known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, announced the pregnancy and then the birth of their first child, they included in the information to the public that they would use the services of a "doula" to assist the future mother.

The concept of a person assisting the mother, or doula, is not something new, and its numerous benefits have been confirmed by studies and experts. And yet, until now, this benefit was not available to everyone.

This week, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, created by the supervisor Hilda Solis and co-created by the supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, which directs LA county departments to seek funds to expand doulas services to pregnant women with Medi-Cal, women in prison, and members of the population with high-risk pregnancies who do not meet the requirements to receive Medi-Cal.

"Access to high quality medical care should not depend on a woman's income or socioeconomic status, and I am committed to eliminating these disparities in medical care by expanding 'doula' care services," said the Supervisor Solis in reference to the motion. “Doulas empower women to communicate their needs to their medical providers, which in turn results in healthier families. All mothers and children, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the human right to high quality medical care ”, the supervisor added.

Doulas, midwives and other friends

Basically, a doula is a A person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support and physical comfort to a mother before, during and just after delivery. Doulas have been around since time immemorial. The word derives from the ancient Greek and originally meant "slave." At that time, the slaves attended their mistresses during pregnancy. In the US, the term was developed in the 60s, the result of the preference of women of the time to have a natural birth without medication.

“The doula is the woman who assists the mother in a psychological, emotional and educational way”, Explained Verónica Hinojosa-Stang, doula for 19 years and a specialist in postpartum and newborn care services.

At present, the term "doula" is not limited to the service of mothers, and is used for example for those trained people who assist patients after surgery, among others, Hinojosa explained.

Hinojosa tries to involve the parents.

Service benefits

“Children do not come with a manual under their arm. Part of the doulas' job is to inform and educate the mother so she knows what to expect. It is also important to involve the parents, so that they help and know how to act when the mother is dealing with the pain, ”said the expert.

The support of the doulas decreases the chances that mothers need medication during the delivery. Doula assistance also reduces the chances of infant mortality, especially among African-American women and their babies.

"It is well documented that African Americans have disproportionately high rates of infant and maternal mortality across the country, as well as in Los Angeles County," said supervisor Ridley-Thomas, co-author of the motion. “I believe that increasing the number of certified and high-quality doulas and making their services affordable for those who need them most will lead to a reduction of these unnecessary and avoidable deaths ”.

According to a 2018 report from the California Department of Public Health, More than 41% of deaths of women related to pregnancy are preventable.

Reports agree that doulas play a key role in increasing the number of healthy child births, especially among immigrant women, with limited access to quality medical care. Studies have shown that women who received support from a doula during labor were less likely to have a C-section, thus decreasing the risk of maternal mortality.

The Peruvian immigrant always had a passion for babies.

Doulas and Latinas

“Latin women are very fit… By force, society forces us to be strong, we are like Pachamama, we believe that we can do everything, ”said Hinojosa, an immigrant from Peru. “Many Latinas who live in the US have that same idea. Many have husbands who don't help. For them, having the support of a doula it would be a luxury. That is why this motion to cover the service for low-income women is so important, ”he reflected. The doula gave the example of "postpartum depression."

“After delivery, the vagina, the nipples, everything hurts. New mothers cannot sleep and many even have to deal with husbands who expect them to care for them. As if not to get depressed. But when the mothers know what to expect, when the doula advises and guides her regarding breastfeeding, she gives her massages to calm the pains, or takes care of the baby so that the mother can rest, among other things, they do not get depressed. All mothers, regardless of their economic situation, benefit from this service. ”

Hinojosa is a single mother, with a bachelor's degree in education, and it was her passion for babies that led her to pursue this career. Currently, Hinojosa offers training and certification courses to other Latinas interested in becoming doulas. The next training starts in March.

In search of funds

This week’s motion directs Department of Public Health, together with other departments, to produce a 90-day report describing the financing flows that could expand the Doula services for middle-income women of color, incarcerated women and women who do not meet the requirements to receive Medi-Cal.

For more information you can visit:

Office of supervisor Hilda Solis
Baby Nurse and Doula Services:


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