Extensive review of recent studies, including over 15,000 women, shows that families benefit dramatically from continuous labor support during birth.
Interesting. Because this is how we’ve traditionally birthed. Surrounded by the support of our friends and family. In a typical hospital setting, women no longer have this support.
Labor Support Makes a Difference
According to this study, those receiving one-on-one support throughout labor are more likely to avoid
- cesarean birth
- epidural use
Those receiving one-on-one support throughout labor reported:
- higher rates of satisfaction
- shorter labor times
Outcomes were most positive when the support person was not a hospital staff employee.
The Doulas Role
A doula is a non-medical labor support person who generally provides some prenatal contact, continuous support during active labor, and a follow up postpartum. The doula has extensive experience in birth and provides physical, emotional and informational support for the birthing family.
Birth with Doula Support
Birthing is a very vulnerable yet empowering experience. When you’re in labor, it can be challenging to remember the questions to ask, the choices you’ve made, that you are strong. A doula’s job is not to speak for you, but to provide the support you need to advocate for yourself. The doula may reassure you verbally – that this experience is normal and you’re working hard and doing well; that there is no emergency, you have time; that now is a good time to take a sip of water. The doula can suggest different laboring positions and provide physical support and comfort. While the birthing woman is concentrating on the work of birth, and the family support person is providing the loving comfort of someone very familiar, the doula is able to provide information about birth while supporting the family member and birthing woman. (For more on a partner’s perspective, see here and here and here.)
In short – the presence of a doula during your birth will improve your birth outcome – whatever your birth plans may be.
Documenting births – some with and some without doula labor support, I have seen first hand the impact a doula makes. This was what motivated me to seek out doula training so I could offer doula services to my clients. I feel so strongly about the positive impact a doula has on the birth experience for the growing family, that I offer a “doula discount” for births I document, when families choose to hire a doula.
Living in a rural area, it can be hard to track down birth-related resources, including doulas. But they do exist! Stay tuned for a future blog post, where I’ll share a list of local doulas.