Hearts & Hands Program
What is a Doula?
Doulas offer comfort and emotional support during the birth experience. Traditionally, doulas have long been supportive companions who accompanied women, helping them feel safe and strong during what many view as a rite of passage: giving birth. The Doula profession continues this service today, as trained experts in comfort care during labor, birth and recovery. Doula support has been shown to improve satisfaction with birth experience, to help avoid unnecessary cesarean birth, and to improve health outcomes into parenthood and beyond.
About Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doulas
The Hearts & Hands Doula Volunteer Program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) is made up of trained, qualified volunteers with training, passion and skills to help you have a meaningful and safe experience. Our doulas offer support as you labor, birth, get to know your baby, breastfeed, and/or recover. CCRMC Doulas work with nurses, midwives and doctors, but they are not medical personnel. They provide support in the hospital for births of all kinds, when their services are requested. They can offer support for those anticipating cesarean or vaginal births, and with or without use of pain medications. Doulas offer guidance for pain-relieving position changes, ways to breathe, massages, coaching, and mentoring, among other skills. Most importantly, doulas listen to what you want help with; doulas strive to learn about and respect each birthing person's priorities and wishes. They assist birthing persons in communication with staff, without speaking for the birthing person. Doulas provide direct support and teach helpful coping skills, but they also recognize that whenever appropriate, helping the birthing person to be supported directly by their partners, family or friends reinforces bonds that will carry forward into future relationships. Ultimately the doula's goal is to help birthing person enjoy a personalized, meaningful experience while at CCRMC.
CCRMC's volunteer doulas care for patients regardless of gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, language, or religious beliefs. Doulas can use translation services to communicate with expectant persons and families in any language. This service is offered at no cost. The Volunteer Doulas provide their services through scheduled shifts and on-call, as availability permits.
Interested in becoming a Volunteer Doula?
The Program's Staff and CCRMC's Volunteer Office strive to support our Volunteer Doulas in this rewarding experience, just as our doulas strive to support our birthing families. Joining the team of CCMRC Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doulas begins with an application and interview process followed by a health inventory and formal background check. Our doulas must firmly commit to at least one full year of service with minimum monthly hours. This commitment helps us to provide consistent and relevant care to families at CCRMC. We ask you to consider these requirements realistically and carefully before committing. Once admitted, applicants take our 2-day New Doula Training, offered at no cost to participants, followed by an orientation period where new doulas shadow experienced doulas. Once this training is completed, doulas continue their commitment of minimum hours, complete a continuing education requirement, and attend Program events. New Doula trainings are held periodically and have a limited capacity. Formal doula certification is NOT required to become a CCRMC Doula.
For more information see Frequently Asked Questions.