What is a Doula
Throughout history, women have been assisting other women during pregnancy and labor. A doula provides very important non-medical support. The doula’s role should be defined uniquely to meet their client’s needs, and their goals for their birth. Doulas provide information through evidence based resources, emotional support for both the mother and her team, and physical support including various positions suggestions, encouraging movement, massage and counter pressure.
Benefits of a Doula
The quality of emotional care women receive during labor is vital to the connections made with the mother and her baby after birth. This support has shown to increase bonding, overall satisfaction and improve breastfeeding outcomes. Additionally, providing labor support enhances the partner’s or support team’s role with the birth experience.
Research is continuing to validate continuous labor support in the form of a doula. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine included the following statement in their article, Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery (2014).
“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula…. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.
This statement was released after a the results of a meta analysis including 23 trials, from 16 countries, involving over 15,000 women from a wide range of settings was reported by the Cochrane Systematic Review in the article, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth (2013). Additionally it was reported that women receiving continuous labor support were:
- less likely to use pain medications
- overall more satisfied
- were more likely to give birth spontaneously (vaginally)
- more likely to have high APGAR scores (which measures the health of new babies)
- less likely to have a Cesarean section