NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | What is a doula? Ask Standish-Ericsson resident Bri Prahl


Standish-Ericsson resident Bri Prahl wants the women who hire her as doula to have the best birth experience possible. “Your birth experience is something that you will have for the rest of your life.  You will always remember it.  I believe that you can have your best birth whether you chose to give birth with or without medication, by induction, C-section or VBAC, whether your birth takes place in a hospital, a birth center, or your home,” she said.

When she was growing up, Prahl didn’t want to have babies because she was afraid of the pain, specifically of having an epidural. But she “just figured that was a part of the birth process.  Your water breaks, you go to the hospital, you get your epidural, you lay there in bed and push your baby out with your feet in the stirrups, then they take the baby away to the nursery where you go visit through a pane of glass.

“It never occurred to me there was any other way to do it,” Prahl said. “When I became pregnant, I started researching all I could about pregnancy and childbirth and realized how many different options there are.”

Her goal as a doula is to be sure women understand all of their options so they can make well-informed decisions.   

What does a doula do?
Prahl: We provide emotional, physical and informational support to mothers and their families.  We meet before the birth to determine what kind of experience the mother wants to have, and support her plan. We provide information to the family so they can make informed decisions about their care, we help write birth plans, have knowledge of the birthing process and can help guide you through the different stages of labor with pain relief and laboring positions.  We act as an advocate for the mother, help encourage the participation of the partner and help establish breast feeding.  Our main goal is to help women have a safe and empowering birth experience!

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
• Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
• Reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
• Reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
• Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals

Research shows parents who receive support can:
• Feel more secure and cared for
• Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
• Have greater success with breastfeeding
• Have greater self-confidence
• Have less postpartum depression
• Have lower incidence of abuse

What kind of training/experience do you have?
Prahl: I completed a DONA birth doula workshop as well as The Gold Standard Breasfeeding Workshop in May of 2010.  I observed the Enlightened Mama Birth Preparation Lamaze Course in July of 2010.  I was certified by DONA in July 2011.  I hold a B.A. In Spanish and Latin American Studies, am a member of the Childbirth Collective and also work as a staff doula at Hennepin County Medical Center.  Plus, I have two small kids of my own.

What is your philosophy on birth?
Prahl: I believe that birth is a normal and natural process that you already instinctively know how to do. Childbirth profoundly changes who you are as a person, and being educated and making informed decisions during your pregnancy and birth will affect you and your new family in a positive way.  

What is the best part about your job?
Prahl: The few moments after the mother gives birth, gets to meet her baby and realizes what she has just accomplished.

What sorts of comments have you received from clients about your services?  
Prahl: Recently one woman was telling everyone at the hospital that I was the best doula ever.  That was pretty awesome.

What is the cost of your services?
Prahl: I charge on a sliding scale of $400-$700.

Contact Prahl at: or

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