Maybe this is your first pregnancy and you’re worried about whether you’ll get the birth experience you want, or perhaps you had a bad experience previously and you’re hoping for a more positive birth this time around. Maybe you feel you need that extra person to support you through your labour, or you need someone calming, someone to keep reminding you and your partner of key elements of your birth plan or someone to keep you informed should medical intervention need to take place. These are just some of the reasons why people use a doula.
Most people who choose to use a doula realise that medical intervention is not always necessary and want to try to avoid it if possible. Have a look at some of the studies and research that show the evidence of the benefits of using a doula. Also see my what is a doula section for lots more information, including why do doulas make such a difference? which includes a brief history of birth.
The Evidence: Reviews and Studies into the Effects of Doulas
There is a vast amount of evidence that shows how doulas improve birth outcomes.
In 2012, Hodnett et al. published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. They analyse the results of 22 trials that included more than 15,000 women. For the full review, click here.
Overall, women who had continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to need pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and C-sections. Their labours were shorter and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth.
So with continuous labour support you and your baby are statistically more likely to have better outcomes.
The outcomes showed that when continuous labour support was provided by a doula, women experienced a:
• 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (sintocinon)
• 28% decrease in the risk of C-section
• 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
• 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience