Doula Benefits

Skilled Labor Support has many benefits

 

According to DONA International, in ancient Greek terms doula (DOO-luh) means “a woman who serves.” Today, doula refers to the practice of providing continuous, informed care and comfort to laboring mothers–before, during and after childbirth–by trained, experienced, educated, non-medical professionals. Not only can doulas bring evidence-based practice and statistically proven benefits to enhance the childbirth experience, doulas also:

  • build personal relationships with expecting moms, her partner and support system;
  • bring a feminine presence and woman’s perspective to the birth experience;
  • support the laboring woman’s body awareness and decision-making; and
  • protect the delivery environment and advocate for the positive birth experience that the woman wants.

Numerous studies document the benefits of doula support during childbirth, including shorter labor, reduced use of pain medications, fewer cesareans, less use of forceps or vacuum extraction, enhanced breastfeeding, improved mother-to-infant interaction, less depression and anxiety in women, and an overall greater sense of satisfaction with the birth experience.

In 2011, the Cochrane Library reported on 21 clinical studies, from 15 countries, involving more than 15,000 women in a wide range of settings and circumstances. The continuous support was provided either by hospital staff (such as nurses or midwives), women who were not hospital employees and had no personal relationship to the laboring woman (such as doulas or women who were provided with a modest amount of guidance), or companions of the woman’s choice from her social network (such as her husband, partner, mother or friend). 

Statistically, studies have shown that when continuous labor support is provided by a doula, women experience a:

  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin,
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section,
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth,
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief,
  • 14% decrease in the risk of her newborn being admitted to a special care nursery, and
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience.

Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s social network, is experienced in providing labor support, and has at least a modest amount of training, appears to be most beneficial.
— Hodnett, E.D, Gates, S, Hofmeyer, J.G., Sakala, C, Weston, J. (2011) Continuous support for women during childbirth, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2001, Issue 7