Having a doula’s support during childbirth was linked to an almost 60% reduction in the likelihood of a woman giving birth by c-section.
Published previously in the American Journal of Managed Care, the figure rises to 80% for non-medically indicated c-sections.
The researchers analysed the results of pre-existing medical surveys, detailing singleton births that took place in a US hospital between 2011 and 2012.
A growing evidence base suggests that continuous labour support confers measurable clinical benefits to both mother and baby. Continuous labour support is the care, guidance, and encouragement provided by those who are with a pregnant woman in labour that aims to support labour physiology and mothers’ feelings of control and participation in decision making during childbirth.
In a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, women who received continuous labour support reported greater satisfaction, had higher rates of spontaneous vaginal birth, higher infant Apgar scores, shorter labours and lower rates of regional anaesthesia, cesarean deliveries and forceps or vacuum deliveries.
While many different individuals can and commonly do provide continuous labour support (including obstetric nurses, husbands and partners, close friends, and family members), the strongest results were achieved when continuous labour support was provided by someone who was not part of the woman’s family or social network or employed by the hospital.
A Doula is a trained professional who provides continuous, one-on-one emotional and informational support during the perinatal period. They are not medical professionals and do not provide medical services, but work alongside nurses, obstetricians, midwives, and other healthcare providers.
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