Scientists thrive on it. The rest of us rely on it for information.
Would you like to know the evidence for doulas?
In 2012, a review was published by Hodnett et al., of a study including 15,000 women from 16 countries and 23 trials of various settings and circumstances (1). This review's objective was to "to assess the effects of continuous, one-to-one intrapartum support compared with usual care" (2).
It compared the support received from medical staff (nurse, midwife, obstetrician), members of the birthing woman's immediate social network (spouse, partner, family or friend) and someone who is neither of the former and is also experienced, trained and solely there as a labor support person (doulas) on labor and birth outcomes.
The "most meaningful support", aka, the continuous support with the best outcomes, was provided by the experienced, trained labor support person.
How did doulas compare to other types of support? Here are the numbers:
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 newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
This information is not meant to invalidate the role of your loved ones or medical team at your birth.
Your spouse, loved ones, friends and family are experts in you.
The medical team are experts in serving your medical needs of you and your baby.
As your birth doula, I am an expert in your desires for birth and am there to support you and your birth team as you achieve them.
In the words of pediatrician, author and maternal-infant bonding advocate, Dr. John H Kennell:
It would be a honor to help you achieve the birth you desire as your doula during your birth in Honolulu, Mililani, Ewa Beach, Kapolei, North Shore, Kailua, or wherever on Oahu you preside!
This was Part 3 in the series, Why a Doula is Worth the Investment. Find the first two posts here:
(1) Continuous support for women during childbirth (Review). Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. 2012. pg. 2. <http://childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/CochraneDatabaseSystRev.pdf>
(2) Continuous support for women during childbirth (Review). Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. 2012. pg. 1. <http://childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/CochraneDatabaseSystRev.pdf>