BirthWays Volunteer Doula Program

We believe all families deserve support throughout the experiences of pregnancy and birth, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.

Our Volunteer Doula Program partners with a number of clinics in Berkeley who serve low-income parents. We also take inquiries via our website from individuals in the community who are MediCal-eligible and in need of birth support. If you are a family seeking to be matched with a volunteer doula, please fill out the form below.

Our doulas are required to have completed an initial doula training workshop, and most are either in the process of their doula certification requirements, or newly certified and interested in building birth experience. We also work with seasoned doulas who are committed to supporting women in need when they can. If you are a birth doula looking to join our Volunteer Doula Program, please click here.


FAQs for families seeking a volunteer doula

What is a doula?

Birth doulas provide birthing individuals with continuous physical, emotional, and informational support before, during, and just after birth. Doulas provide a continuity of care that is so valuable to expecting families. Doulas support their clients without judgment; their focus is to help families have the most satisfying birth experience they can, however it unfolds.

Why should I consider having a doula?

Having a birth doula can greatly enhance your enjoyment of your birth by providing focused attention and support from start to finish. Studies have shown the following benefits when individuals receive doula support:

  • Shorter labors
  • Significant reduction in complications, interventions, and cesarean births
  • Greater success at immediate breastfeeding and higher rates of continued breastfeeding
  • Higher reports by birthing individuals and partners of positive birth experiences
  • Reduction in postpartum mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety

Do I qualify for a volunteer doula?

Your family qualifies for this program if you are eligible for Medi-Cal (determine your eligibility here) and you live in the San Francisco Bay Area.*

*Since BirthWays is based in Berkeley, California, and partners with Berkeley clinics, the majority of our volunteer doulas are based in the East Bay. However, for those interested in doula support and birthing at other Bay Area hospitals, our volunteers are sometimes willing to travel to San Francisco, Marin, and occasionally the South Bay. Should you have found us outside of these service areas (such as Sacramento, and Santa Cruz, for example), it is unlikely that we will be able to meet your needs.

How am I matched with my doula?

Fill out the form below to request to be matched with a volunteer doula. Our Volunteer Doula Program Coordinator will add you to our Doula Match List and be in touch with you directly with additional information or questions. To reach the coordinator by email, click here.

Because we are entirely volunteer run, our pool of available doulas ebbs and flows from month to month. As such, there are times that we simply cannot match every request with a doula. Please allow at least three weeks for the match process to be completed and to hear from your assigned doula. If your estimated due date is imminent, we will try our best to get you matched as soon as possible.

What services will my volunteer doula provide?

Once a doula has signed on to work with you, they will be in contact by phone or email to set up a time to either meet in person or talk by phone to make sure the two of you are a good fit. Once that step is completed and the match is confirmed, you will receive the following services from your doula:

  • One prenatal visit to get to know each other, go over your birth preferences, discuss any concerns you may have, review coping strategies, labor positions, and more.
  • On call coverage from 38 weeks until the birth
  • Continuous labor and birth support once your day arrives
  • If, due to circumstances beyond their control, your doula is not able to attend your birth, they will make every effort to find a replacement
  • One postpartum visit

What do I need to do in return?

Our volunteer doulas take the commitment to support you in your birth very seriously, and we appreciate your mutual commitment to your doula as well. Please be respectful of their time by attending all scheduled meetings and by committing to use their services once your labor day arrives. Sometimes our volunteer doulas have paperwork requirements for certification purposes, which they may ask you to help them complete.

What are my next steps?

  1. Fill out the request form below, allowing up to three weeks to receive your response.
  2. If needed, contact the Volunteer Doula Program Coordinator at doulaprogram@birthways.org with further questions.
  3. Respond to the assigned doula’s attempt to contact you.
  4. Be available to meet with your doula.
  5. Enjoy your experience with your doula!