What do statistics show regarding doulas and birth outcomes? When women have continuous professional doula support, they can experience:
- Decrease in C-Section rate
- Shorter labor
- Reduced use of pitocin for labor augmentation
- Decreased request for epidurals and other pain medications
- Decreased rate of low birth weight and pre-term babies
- Decreased need for medical inverventions
- Decreased need for specialized newborn care
- Better 5 minute Apgar scores for newborns
- Increased breastfeeding success
- Greater satisfaction with the birthing process for both mother and partner
- In 2017, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) officially announced their encouragement of the use of continuous labor support: “Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor….Support offered by trained labor coaches such as doulas has been associated with improved birth outcomes, including shortened labor and fewer operative deliveries.”
Is it beneficial to hire a doula even if a partner or spouse is present for support? Yes! Check out these articles:
Dads & Doulas: Myths & Resources
Is a doula still helpful if an epidural or other medications are part of a birth plan?
Yes! Doulas will help women ask the right questions, minimize side effects of medications and assist with optimal positioning when mobility is limited. Massage and other stress-relieving tools can help while laboring and immobilized. Another point to consider is that it is not guaranteed that epidurals will completely eliminate pain. In some circumstances, an epidural might not be entirely effective and there could be a “window” of pain where you still feel contractions. There are other situations where labor might progress quickly and intensely and an epidural might not be an option. It is wise to plan to have support in the event that these situations do occur. Even if an epidural is entirely effective, you may need support through early active labor before receiving the epidural.
Is a doula necessary if planning a home birth with a midwife?
The role of your midwife and her assistant is to focus primarily on the safety and health of you and your baby. A doula will be more focused on your physical and emotional comfort, as well as your partner or spouse’s needs. A doula will typically arrive well before the midwife and support you through the earlier part of active labor. A doula might also help to communicate with your midwife regarding how you are progressing, prior to the midwife’s arrival.