Evidence for Doula Support

As a birth and postpartum doula certifying with DONA International, it is my job to provide only evidence-based research and information to my clients. Thankfully, there is a ton of research available on the field of birth and many excellent resources out there that provide easy to understand abstracts & summaries of the studies. One of my favorites, Evidence-Based Birth is an excellent resource for both expecting parents & birth professionals. Another is the Cochrane Library.

But what about the evidence for having a doula at your birth or during the postpartum period? If you are a research lover like me and want to learn more about the evidence-based studies, please read on!

It has been found that there are no contraindications for doula care. The evidence based on systematic reviews of continuous labour support shows that, "continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm." (Hodnett & colleagues 2011)

The review also found that the effects of support are strongest when the support person is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a person in the birthing person's social network, and was present solely to provide one-to-one supportive care. This point is further illustrated in this exert from, 'The Doula Book' by Klaus, Kennell & Klaus 3rd Edition:

"...when two people share an emotional bond and an ongoing relationship, it is very difficult for that companion to remain continuously objective, calm, and removed to some degree from the birthing person's discomfort and fears, or any danger to them. In most cases - and this cannot be stated too often - the partner will have the unexpressed but deeply felt question, will everything be alright? Also, a partner often has had little to no experience with the birth process.

For those reasons, every person in labour needs not only the partner or other chosen support person, but also a nurturing, experienced person - a doula - who can calmly and skillfully help her cope with labour and be a reassuring and constant presence for both of them. The doula gives a level of support different from that of a person who is intimately related to the person in labour."

For the most updated evidence in doula support during labour & birth, click here. And here.

To read more about the research & evidence for postpartum doula support, please click here.

Abigail Barclay