“It is a powerful thing to work with a woman on her childbirth, to walk her and her partner through the steps of labor and support them through what they need – more information about a stage of labor, a back massage, help getting in the tub, strategies for getting through contractions – because it makes an incredible impact on how they feel about their experience. But, it’s more than that. It’s an evidence-based practice that has been shown to improve birth outcomes. Offering this service in a major medical center is an extraordinary thing.”

Rhonda Lanning

Doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth. In the Triangle area, the number of expectant mothers hiring doulas to attend their births is on the rise. With research that links doula support to improved outcomes and experiences for both moms and babies, hiring one begins to feel like a necessity. But, it’s not accessible for everyone. A private doula can cost as much as $500 to $1,000.

Led by School of Nursing faculty Dr. Rhonda Lanning, Birth Partners is a volunteer program at UNC Health that provides free, trained, volunteer doulas to families giving birth at N.C. Women’s Hospital. UNC Birth Partners volunteer their time in two 12-hour shifts per month, often in addition to being full-time graduate or undergraduate students or working full-time jobs. With nearly 3,500 births per year at N.C. Women’s Hospital, UNC Birth Partners are coming close to seeing 10 percent of the mothers who give birth there.

Interested in becoming a volunteer doula?

Email birthpartners@unc.edu to request information.