Seattle Family Doula

Serving families in Seattle

Gwen new headshotGwen Kiehne PCD (NAPS), CLE

What is a doula?

A doula is someone who is professionally trained and experienced in providing compassionate care to a childbearing person and their family before, during, and/or after the birth of a child. Birth doulas meet with their clients prenatally, assist with birth planning, and provide physical and emotional support throughout labor, birth, and the days immediately following birth. Research shows that continuous support for the laboring person results in shorter labors, fewer interventions, and lower rates of dissatisfaction. Birth doulas facilitate communication between laboring people, their partners, and their care providers and help preserve positive and empowering memories of the birth experience.

Postpartum doulas usually (but not always) meet with families prenatally and provide more extended care, including physical and emotional support of the family, postpartum care, newborn care, feeding assistance, and light housekeeping in the weeks or months following the birth of a new child. Research shows that having consistent high quality support during the “fourth trimester” can make a significant difference in the rate of postpartum mood disorders, breastfeeding or chestfeeding success, and family integration and happiness.

How do I find a doula that can help me?

The best way to find a doula is to ask for referrals from people you know or from your local doula certifying bodies. Hiring a certified doula helps ensure that the person you are entrusting with your care has met certain requirements including attending DONA International approved trainings, clear background checks, and client evaluations that show skill and competence for providing this type of support. In the Pacific Northwest, the organization that certifies postpartum doulas is the Northwest Association for Postpartum Support (NAPS). You can find more information on the NAPS website, including a referral line. The local organization that certifies birth doulas is the Pacific Association of Labor Support (PALS). You can find more information on the PALS website, including an interactive referral list.

Another important resource is where you can view profiles of both certified and uncertified doulas and check their availability. Doulas have varying degrees of experience, specialization, interests, and rates. Choosing the right doula for your family is a very personal process. It's a good idea to interview several doulas before deciding who you want to work with. You can find suggestions for questions to ask the doulas that you interview on the DONA International website.