You're expecting; congratulations! It's time to determine what your birth team looks like and who you want to include. A doula is a trained, non-medical birth professional specializing in assisting the birthing person (and partner, if applicable) both emotionally and physically throughout labor.
According to a recent systematic review of continuous labor support, experiences of over 15,000 women who participated in 21 randomized controlled trials, found that continuous support during labor had meaningful benefits for both the birthing person and infant (Hodnett and colleagues, 011).
Effects were strongest when the person was neither a member of the hospital staff, nor a person in the woman’s social network, and was present solely to provide one-to-one supportive care. Compared with women who had no continuous support, women with companions (such as a doula) who were neither on the hospital staff, nor in the woman’s social network were:
28% less likely to have a cesarean section
31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
9% less likely to use any pain medication
34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively
Supported women had better outcomes than the usual care groups, with improved obstetric outcomes and dramatically lowered intervention rates, when accompanied by a doula.
*Content is inspired by and borrowed from the DONA International Birth Doula Manual (2017).