DONA International


11th Annual DONA International Conference

The DONA International

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for Birth Doulas

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for Birth Doulas

for Postpartum Doulas

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DONA International
35 E. Wacker Dr., Ste. 850
Chicago, IL 60601-2106
(888) 788-DONA (3662)
Local: (312) 224-2595
Fax: (312) 644-8557
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Office Hours
Monday Friday
8:30 am 5:00 pm Central Time


Our Founders

DONA International Founders: Mothering the Mother

Drs. Marshall Klaus and John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus C.S.W., M.F.C.C., Penny Simkin, PT, and Annie Kennedy, all renowned experts in childbirth and newborns, founded DONA International in 1992. Their goal was to promote doula care – continuous emotional and physical support for women during labor and early postpartum.

From left to right: Peggy and John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus, Penny Simkin,
Marshall Klaus and Annie Kennedy.

Marshall Klaus, while running the neonatal intensive care nursery at Stanford University in 1967, discovered that many parents of premature and sick infants were having difficulty adjusting to their new babies. At that time, mothers were not allowed into the premature nursery until just before discharge. Klaus joined forces with Dr. John Kennell, his colleague at Case Western Reserve University, to study bonding. Their work was instrumental in gradually opening premature and sick baby nurseries to parents worldwide and to allow parents of normal, full-term infants to be with their babies during the first moments after birth.

Klaus and Kennell also discovered the importance of continuous emotional and physical support from another woman to women in labor. Klaus and Kennell, along with Phyllis Klaus, Penny Simkin and Annie Kennedy, chose the word “doula” to describe a woman who serves other women. Our five founders have continued their research and frequently share their knowledge through their writings and speaking engagements.

Founder John H. Kennell, MD passed away in August 2013. Read the announcement.

Books by our founders
• Klaus, M, Kennell, J. & Klaus, P., Bonding: Building The Foundations Of Secure Attachment And Independence
• Klaus, M. & Klaus, P., Your Amazing Newborn
• Klaus, M., Kennell, J & Klaus, P., The Doula Book
• Simkin, P. & Ancheta, R., The Labor Progress Handbook
• Simkin, P., The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions
• Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham & Bolding, Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: the Complete Guide
• Simkin, P & Klaus, P., When Survivors Give Birth





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Learn How to Become a Doula
Through evidence-based research,
DONA International Certification can quickly help you develop both birth and postpartum skills. Learn more...

The Essential Ingredient: DOULA
The Essential Ingredient: DOULA is a documentary produced by DONA International in 2010 featuring commentary by all of DONA International's esteemed founders and some of its celebrated past presidents speaking on the origin and rationale of doula support. Their words are complemented by inspiring visuals of treasured birth and postpartum moments courtesy of Jodie Myers / MyBirthMovie. You are encouraged to use this documentary in your practice. Embed it on your web site and share it with potential clients and professional. You can view this documentary now* on-line on Vimeo and YouTube.
*Please be advised that you may not edit or cut the video or remix portions of it for other projects.

The Essential Ingredient: Doula

Learn More About Doulas
Read DONA International's Position Papers on Birth and Postpartum, and other evidence-based research.

Photography above by:
© Connie M. Ross
Used with permission.





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