Doula Care

Doulas provide non-medical support to pregnant people and their families before, during and after childbirth. This support can help families handle the physical, emotional and practical issues that surround childbirth.

Learn about no-cost doula services through the new Citywide Doula Initiative.

Studies have found doula support leads to better labor and birthing experiences, as well as better birth outcomes. People giving birth with support from a doula are less likely to:

  • Have an instrumental vaginal birth or cesarean section
  • Have their labor induced
  • Receive pain medications

They are also more likely to:

  • Have a shorter labor
  • Initiate breastfeeding earlier and breastfeed for longer
  • Have positive feelings about their birth experience
  • Have better mother-baby bonding

Correcting Racial Inequities

Doula support is a promising way to reduce racial inequities in birth outcomes. Currently, babies born to Black and Puerto Rican mothers in NYC are three times more likely to die in their first year of life than babies born to non-Hispanic White mothers. Further, non-Hispanic Black women are eight times more likely than non-Hispanic White women to die from pregnancy-related causes.

Research shows that families in a community-based doula program are less likely to have a preterm or low-birthweight baby, which means they have a lower risk of infant mortality.

Types of Doulas

Birth Doulas

These doulas meet with you before and after childbirth to help prepare you for birth, breastfeeding and parenting.

During labor and birth, birth doulas can help you stay comfortable by providing comforting touch and guidance on breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. Immediately after birth, they can show you how to maintain skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed your baby.

Birth doulas can also help you with hospital policies and encourage respectful communication between families and hospital staff.

Postpartum Doulas

These doulas begin their work with families in the first few days after childbirth. They can provide evidence-based information on physical recovery from birth, emotional well-being, infant feeding and parent-infant bonding. They can also help with cooking and other household duties. This support gives you the time you need to rest and focus on your baby.

A postpartum doula can also help you understand what you can expect from your baby and provide infant-soothing and coping skills.

Community-Based Doulas

You can get free or low-cost support by using a community-based doula. These doulas are trained to focus on the needs of specific communities that historically have had worse birth outcomes. They often share the same background, culture and language as their clients.

Community-based doula programs conduct home visits and offer a wider array of services and referrals for people who need more support. The relationship that develops during home visits can be particularly helpful for clients looking to expand their social support network.

These doulas are trained to address all the needs of their clients, including referrals to food pantries, housing programs and sources for free diapers.


Finding and Paying for a Doula

Most people pay out of pocket for doula services. Some insurance companies cover at least part of doula costs. To find out if your insurance covers doula support, speak with your insurance provider.

If you have a pre-tax account, such as a Healthcare Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account, you may be able to use it to pay for doula support.

Several doula programs in NYC also provide free or low-cost services.

Many doulas practice independently, but some are also part of a doula organization. These groups may offer services at various prices, based on the amount of experience the doula has or the client’s income. Some organizations also provide free services, funded by government programs, grants or donations.

Citywide Doula Initiative

The Citywide Doula Initiative provides professional, no-cost doula services to residents of neighborhoods that have been especially affected by COVID-19.

To enroll, you must live in one of the neighborhoods shown in blue on this map and be income-eligible for Medicaid. The program prioritizes people who:

  • Live in a shelter
  • Are in foster care
  • Have no other labor support
  • Are giving birth for the first time, or for the first time in at least 10 years
  • Had a previous traumatic birth experience
  • Have a high-risk medical condition

The below programs provide services as part of the Citywide Doula Initiative. Each program is available only to people who live in the listed ZIP codes.

Bronx

  • Ancient Song Doula Services
    347-778-3490
    doula@ancientsongdoulaservices.com
    ZIP codes: 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10458, 10459, 10460, 10463, 10466, 10467, 10468, 10472, 10473, 10474

  • Caribbean Women’s Health Association
    718-826-2942
    CWHAdoulas@cwha.org
    ZIP codes: 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10458, 10459, 10460, 10463, 10466, 10467, 10468, 10472, 10473, 10474

  • Mama Glow Foundation
    718-510-4015
    info@mamaglow.com
    ZIP codes: 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10458, 10459, 10460, 10463, 10466, 10467, 10468, 10472, 10473, 10474

  • Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership
    212-665-2600
    info@nmppcares.org
    ZIP codes: 10451, 10452, 10454, 10455, 10456

Brooklyn

  • Ancient Song Doula Services
    347-778-3490
    doula@ancientsongdoulaservices.com
    ZIP codes: 11203, 11205, 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11216, 11221, 11220, 11224, 11226, 11232, 11233, 11235, 11236, 11237, 11238, 11239

  • By My Side Birth Support Program
    718-637-5231
    healthystartbrooklyn@health.nyc.gov
    ZIP codes: 11203, 11205, 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11216, 11221, 11220, 11226, 11232, 11233, 11236, 11237, 11238, 11239

  • Caribbean Women’s Health Association
    718-826-2942
    CWHAdoulas@cwha.org
    ZIP codes: 11203, 11205, 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11216, 11221, 11220, 11224, 11226, 11232, 11233, 11235, 11236, 11237, 11238, 11239

  • Hope and Healing Family Center
    347-384-1494
    hhfc01@ymail.com
    ZIP codes: 11205, 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11216, 11221, 11233, 11237, 11238, 11239

  • Mama Glow Foundation
    718-510-4015
    info@mamaglow.com
    ZIP codes: 11203, 11205, 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11216, 11221, 11220, 11224, 11226, 11232, 11233, 11235, 11236, 11237, 11238, 11239

Manhattan

  • Ancient Song Doula Services
    347-778-3490
    doula@ancientsongdoulaservices.com
    ZIP codes: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040

  • Caribbean Women’s Health Association
    718-826-2942
    CWHAdoulas@cwha.org
    ZIP codes: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040

  • Mama Glow Foundation
    718-510-4015
    info@mamaglow.com
    ZIP codes: 10002, 10003, 10009, 10013, 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040

  • Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership
    212-665-2600
    info@nmppcares.org
    ZIP codes: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040

  • The Mothership
    646-598-7199
    doula@themothershipnyc.com
    ZIP codes: 10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, 10040

Queens

  • Ancient Song Doula Services
    347-778-3490
    doula@ancientsongdoulaservices.com
    ZIP codes: 11101, 11368, 11369, 11412, 11419, 11420, 11421, 11423, 11429, 11432, 11433, 11434, 11435, 11436, 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694

  • Caribbean Women’s Health Association
    718-826-2942
    CWHAdoulas@cwha.org
    ZIP codes: 11101, 11368, 11369, 11412, 11419, 11420, 11421, 11423, 11429, 11432, 11433, 11434, 11435, 11436, 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694

  • Mama Glow Foundation
    718-510-4015
    info@mamaglow.com
    ZIP codes: 11101, 11368, 11369, 11412, 11419, 11420, 11421, 11423, 11429, 11432, 11433, 11434, 11435, 11436, 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694

Staten Island

Additional Programs Offering No-Cost Doulas

Bronx


Brooklyn

  • Healthy Women, Healthy Futures
    Brooklyn Perinatal Network
    718-643-8258, x21
    dwest@bpnetwork.org

Manhattan and Queens

  • Healthy Women, Healthy Futures
    Caribbean Women’s Health Association
    718-826-2942
    CWHAdoulas@cwha.org

Staten Island


All Boroughs

The following two programs also offer paid services on a sliding scale:

Additional Doula Organizations in NYC

The following organizations have provided information about their services to the Health Department. For more details, see Appendix D of The State of Doula Care in NYC 2021 (PDF). Note, this is not a complete list of organizations providing doula services in NYC.


How to Become a Doula

If you are interested in becoming a doula, there are several local programs that offer training and apprenticeships. For more information, contact the below organizations directly. Many national organizations also offer doula training.

Programs Offering Doula Training

Citywide Doula Initiative Apprenticeship Program

The Citywide Doula Initiative's Apprenticeship Program aims to increase the number of community-based doulas who can support clients who are experiencing stress from social, racial and economic inequities. This program helps newly trained doulas become certified and build skills in case management, resource referral and traditional doula care.

For more information about this program, contact the organizations listed under the Citywide Doula Initiative tab above.


State of Doula Care in NYC

The NYC Department of Health produces an annual report describing the state of doula care in the city. The report reviews challenges for patients in getting doula support and outlines the Health Department's plan for expanding access.

More Information