About Us

Our philosophy of care has been around a long time...

You are … assisting at someone else's birth.
Do good without show or fuss.
Facilitate what is happening rather than
what you think ought to be happening.
If you must take the lead,
lead so that the mother is helped,
yet still free and in charge.
When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say:
"We did it ourselves!"
                         - from The Tao Te Ching 2500 years ago


  • To work within the UCSD Medical Center’s patient care team as volunteer birth assistants who provide non-clinical support in accordance with each mother’s preferences during her childbirth.
  • To be a widely regarded, sustainable program model shown to enhance clinical outcomes and increase patient satisfaction.


  • Every woman delivering a baby at the UCSD Medical Center will have access to a volunteer doula.


The Hearts & Hands Doula Program began at the UCSD Medical Center in San Diego in late 1999 as a grass-roots project run solely by volunteers. It evolved steadily on its own for two years, growing in both the number of volunteer hours and the numbers of families served.

In 2002, funding was received from the First 5 Commission of San Diego (then called the San Diego County Children and Families Commission) along with in-kind support from UCSD Medical Center. During this second phase of growth, Hearts & Hands focused on establishing the infrastructure of the program and was able to expand both outreach and volunteer management capabilities.

In 2004, a two-year grant from the California Endowment enabled the program to continue to develop and has since become one of the largest and most successful hospital-based programs in existence.

By 2007 Hearts & Hands doulas had attended the births of over 2,000 babies, representing many thousands of hours of volunteer time. The clinical outcomes of these births have been outstanding: results include shorter labors, less use of pain medications, fewer medical interventions, and a significant reduction in the cesarean section rate. Doula care has also been shown to improve breastfeeding rates and enhance long-term parenting competency – and patient satisfaction is very high.

Looking toward future growth, the primary objectives of the program are to:

1. Increase the number of families in San Diego receiving doula care by expanding organizational capacity for community outreach, and for recruitment, training, retention, and utilization of volunteers.

2. Ensure the project’s sustainability by developing and implementing a plan for a broad base of financial support.

3. Expand the availability of doula care in other communities by sharing best practices and lessons learned, and by providing assistance to other organizations interested in replication of this model.

Where we work - UCSD Medical Center

UCSD Medical Center - Hillcrest is the primary hospital for the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

At the UCSD Medical Center, your health and comfort during your hospital stay are our top priorities. Our physicians and staff are here to make sure you receive the best care and your personal needs are met.

UCSD Medical Center is the region’s only academic medical center, meaning we bring special expertise and experience to our patients. You will benefit from the team approach and may find in addition to your personal doctor, a group of highly skilled health professionals working to provide your care. We hope this additional attention contributes to your well-being and peace of mind.

We are committed to meeting your needs respectfully and compassionately. When you leave our hospital, we want you to feel that you have received excellent care and service.

After you return home, you may receive a brief survey in the mail asking you to let us know how we did. Please take a few minutes to respond. We take your comments very seriously and use these surveys to identify areas where we can improve.
200 West Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 543-6222

University of California, San Diego Medical Center

Copyright 2008-2014, San Diego, CA