What is a doula
Throughout history women have been supporting other women during pregnancy, labor and birth. The doula is present as a support person, providing very important non-medical support. The doulas role should be defined uniquely to meet their client’s needs, and their goals for their labor and birth. Doulas provide physical support including various positions, movement, massage and counter pressure, evidence based resources, and emotional support for both the mother and her team.
Benefits of Labor Support
The quality of emotional care and support women receive during labor and birth is vital to the emotional ties and connections made with both the mother and her support team to baby after birth. This has shown to increase bonding, overall satisfaction and improve breastfeeding outcomes. Additionally, providing labor support enhances the partners or support teams role with the labor and birth experience.
Research is continuing to validate the support for continuously labor support in the role of a doula. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine included the following statement in their artice, 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:
- less likely to use pain medications
- overall satisfaction was increased
- were more likely to give birth spontaneously (vaginally)
- their babies were less likely to have low 5 minute APGAR scores
- no adverse effects to the support received were identified.