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Sam Roberts

Who Invented the Doula?

“When grandmother walked out of the nursery…out with her went the whole cultural tradition of pampering mother along with baby.

“…Many lacked the family support systems that previous generations had — the grandmothers and aunts who could advise and assist — largely owing to changing social patterns.

“To fill that need, Dr. Dana Raphael advocated the use of female attendants, or doulas, to guide mothers during and after childbirth. She was credited with coining the term — from the Greek word for a female servant — in an article she wrote in 1969.

“She was later executive director of the Eleventh Commandment Foundation, which studied the effects of childhood sexual abuse on women’s experiences of pregnancy, labor, childbirth and lactation. She also wrote several other books in the 1970s and 1980s.” 


Sam Roberts, from “Dana Raphael, Proponent of Breast-Feeding and Use of Doulas, Dies at 90,” New York Times, February 19, 2016.