How Having a Doula Affects Positive Birth Outcome
With professional Doula Services on the rise, partly thanks to celebrity praise from well-known names such as Meghan Markle and Nicole Kidman, one has to wonder what really are the benefits of having a Doula by your side in the delivery room and beyond?
We’ve gathered up the statistics so you don’t have to!
Firstly, what is a Doula?
A doula is somebody that provides non-medical support for mothers throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond. They provide the physical support a mum-to-be may need such as creating a calm environment and providing warm clothes, baths or food. Doulas also provide informational support which can guide parents-to-be through the labour process or suggest particular techniques to ease birth. Emotional support is also essential which reduces tension during a potentially stressful time, but mostly Doulas advocate for the birthing person to make decisions about their own body and baby.
They do not perform medical tests, make decisions for the client or leave the clients side, whereas nurses only account for 6-12% of support during birth due to being busy with other responsibilities such as clinical and equipment care, attending to other patients and covering lunch-breaks. The difference between a Nurse and a Doula is that a Doula is dedicated to the client’s comfort and needs 100% of the time.
Some people think that they do not need a doula because their partner will be present. However, the birth partner is having their own emotional journey that requires support, as well as lack of knowledge to truly provide the guidance a Doula can.
One study as published on PubMed showed a substantial improvement in outcomes for women who had both a birth partner and a doula, compared to having a birth partner alone.
The Cesarean rate for these first-time mothers was 25% in the group with a partner only, and 13.4% in the group with a partner and doula.
The women who had their labor medically induced experienced an even more striking decrease in the Cesarean rate with a doula. The Cesarean rate with labor inductions was 58.8% in the group without a doula, and just 12.5% in the group with a doula. Also, fewer women in the doula group required an epidural (64.7%) compared to those without a doula (76%).
As if that isn’t mind-blowing enough, several studies have concluded that having a Doula results in…
25% shorter labour rate
50% reduction C section rate
60% reduction in epidural requests
40% reduction in oxytocin use
40% reduction in forceps delivery
There are several reasons why Doulas are so effective, one being the “harsh environment” theory. In most developed countries, birth has become a place of fear where laboring people are frequently submitted to institutional routines, high intervention rates, staff who are strangers, lack of privacy, bright lighting, and needles.
Most of us would have a hard time dealing with these conditions when we’re feeling our best, never mind the vulnerable state of labouring women. It is thought that a doula “buffers” this harsh environment by providing continuous support and companionship which promotes the mother’s self-esteem.
So, the question then shifts from ‘Can you afford one?’ to ‘How can’t you afford one?’ It is proven that Doulas are an integral part of a healthy, happy birthing process and we are delighted to provide the only Doula Training course that is aimed towards the Irish Maternity Health Care Model.
The elbowroom has an extensive range of classes for all ages and abilities. We offer such an eclectic mix to enable you to find something that will suit you. If you need any advice, please contact our class advisor who can point you in the right direction.