The benefits of the type of continuous support provided by a doula have been established by meta-analyses of twelve trials and cited in numerous books, including Mothering the Mother by Marshall H. Klaus, M.D., Phyllis M. Klaus, M.Ed., and John Kennell, M.D*. These sources report that the use of a doula can result in increased breastfeeding success, greater partner confidence, and higher maternal satisfaction^.
The Results Show the Following:
* decrease in epidural use
* fewer cesarean births
* decrease in use of Pitocin to stimulate labor
* decrease in narcotic use for pain relief
* decrease in forceps use
* decrease in length of labor
Following is another summary of the impact a doula has on labor and early parenting, adapted from a handout by Penny Simkin, PT, CD(DONA).
Support in Labor From a Doula:
Decreases anxiety and tension (3,5)
Increases acceptance of the baby (2,5)
Shortens labor (3,5)
Enhances the maternal/infant bond (2,3,5)
Increases positive feelings about labor (2)
Decreases neonatal problems (3,5)
Decreases need for medication (1,3,5)
Increases feelings of control (1,2)
Decreases intervention (3,5)
Decreases postpartum depression (6)
Decreases cesareans (3,5)
Enhances self-confidence and self-esteem (4)
^ We as doulas cannot guarantee any particular birth outcome and outcomes are heavily influenced by the mother's health status and her choice of care provider and birth location.
*Klaus, Klaus, and Kennell. Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth. 1992
1. Hodnett, Ellen D., and Richard W. Osborn. "A Randomized Trial of the Effects
of Monitrice Support During Labor: Mothers' View of Two to Four Weeks Postpartum."
Birth. 16:4, December 1989
2. Hofmyer, G.J. et al. "Companionship to Modify the Clinical Birth Environment: Effects on Progress and Perceptions of Labor and Breastfeeding." British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 98: 756-764, 1991
3. Kennel, J., Klaus, M., et al. "Continuous Emotional Support During Labor in a US Hospital." Journal of the American Medical Association. 265: 2197-2201, May 1, 1990
4. Simkin, P. "Just Another Day in a Woman's Life? Women's Long-Term Perceptions of Their First Birth Experience. Part 1." Birth. 18:4, December, 1991, and "Part 2." Birth. 19:2, June 1992.
5. Sosa, Klaus, Kennell, et al. "The Effects of a Supportive Companion on Perinatal Problems, Length of Labor and Mother-Infant Interaction." New England Journal of Medicine. 303: 597-600, 1980.
6. Wolman, Wendy-Lynne, et al. "Postpartum Depression and Companionship in the Clinical Birth Environment: A Randomized, Controlled Study." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. May 1993.