What Happens When You have a Doula

Doulas are more than just nice, they make a difference!

I felt a lot better and was way more comfortable with my labors when I had a doula. I physically felt better and so did my partner! That was priceless, but having a doula is more than a feel-good choice. It changes what happens during birth and after too.

That’s all nice but does that change anything?

You may have heard that doulas “improve birth outcomes” which is a bit vague- so here’s what that really means.

When a parent is attended by a doula in labor, they are more likely to have:

  • a shorter labor!
  • a spontaneous vaginal birth- fewer cesareans by 39% and with less need for forceps or vacuum extraction
  • care that is centered on the parent as the patient
  • positive birth experiences
  • less expensive birth
  • choose an unmedicated birth

Babies are more likely to:

  • have higher APGAR scores! APGAR scores help the birth team note how easily babies transition in the first minutes after birth. Higher scores show babies have a smoother time adjusting after birth.
  • Start breastfeeding!

Cesareans are the most common women’s surgery so it can be easy to forget a cesarean is a major surgery. Thank goodness there’s access to cesareans when needed. But they do come with short- and long-term risks. So safe prevention is important and doula support is prevention.

After most major surgeries people are expected to lay low and recover. That’s tricky when you must care for a newborn. After a cesarean having a postpartum or 4th trimester doula can really help!


Did you know Black, Indigenous, and Latina people are more likely to have complications in labor through no fault of their own. Doulas support helps reduce the disparities- or differences in outcomes- that make it more dangerous for Black, Indigenous, and Latina people to give birth. Doulas, especially doulas from similar cultural backgrounds, are part of the solution and one reason the Medi-Cal Benefit came into being.

How to find a doula?

Your healthcare provider may have a list of doulas who they’ve worked with. You can also look to local resources like FIRST 5 Mendocino for a list. Though we don’t endorse specific doulas or vet them, our resource page is a good place to go to find pregnancy and postpartum support. People in parenting groups may also be a good place to go to find out who the local active doulas are.

What’s the cost?

Doulas can now be covered by Medi-Cal which is a huge lift for access! Doulas have historically been an out of pocket expense. Fees vary from one doula to another and by area. So, for non-Medi-Cal doulas, it’s best to ask about their services and fees.

The Medi-Cal Doula Benefit

A new Medi-Cal doula benefit includes support during pregnancy, labor and birth, and for after baby arrives. They can help with questions about baby care, breastfeeding and lactation, support personal care by giving you a chance to shower, nap or otherwise take care of yourself.

What does Medi-Cal doula support cover?

The Medi-Cal doula benefit covers visits during pregnancy, birth and labor support, and support after the birth. It covers up to 9 combined prenatal and postpartum visits including 2 extra-long 1.5 hour visits.

What does Medi-Cal need to cover a doula?

To have Medi-Cal cover your doula, a doctor, midwife or other health care provider that works with pregnant people should recommend that you have a doula. The recommending healthcare provider does not need to be a Medi-Cal provider themselves.

Any questions?

Feel free to check in with FIRST 5 Mendocino. We care about this benefit because healthy, satisfied births help parents start off stronger with more links to the supports that make parenting easier.

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