“If a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. John H. Kennel
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning of “women who serve”. We use it now to refer to a woman who is trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support throughout the labor process and the immediate postpartum period. Not to be confused with a midwife, doulas have no clinical training. They are meant to be a support person on your team in addition to your care provider and partner. They are also there to offer support to your partner and family as well. A doula will encourage your partner to participate in the birth on whatever level they feel comfortable. They are there to offer an objective viewpoint and help you and your partner gain access to the information you need to make the best choices for your family.
There have been quite a few studies done on the effects a doula has on laboring women. This information comes from Mothering the Mother by Kennel, Klaus and Kennel (1993).
- Labors are 25% shorter.¹
- There are fewer complications.
- Cesarean rates are reduced by 50%.¹
- There is 40% less need for oxytocin to speed up labor.¹
- Need for forceps is reduced by 40%.¹
- Women request 30% less pain medication and 60% fewer epidurals.¹
- Greater satisfaction with their birth experience.
- More positive assessments of their babies.
- Less postpartum depression.
- Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.
- Babies breastfeed more easily.
- Mothers are more affectionate to their babies postpartum.
- The cost of obstetrical care is dramatically reduced.
- Women are pleased with the personalized care doulas offer.
- The Benefit of continuous support in labor is recognized by:
- The World Health Organization
- The Medical Leadership Council (an organization of over 1200 U.S. hospitals)
- The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada