What Does a Birth Doula DO?

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”  – John Kennell, M.D., pediatrician

A doula provides emotional and physical support to women and their families during labor and childbirth, and also the postpartum period.  The word “doula” comes from Ancient Greek meaning “woman who serves.”

Dr. Kennell was one of the very first scientists to research and investigate the benefits of continuous labor support for birthing women, and along with Dr. Klaus, Penny Simkin, Annie Kennedy and Phyllis Klaus, founded Doulas of North America, which later became DONA International, a well-respected doula organization committed to training both birth and postpartum doulas and providing a doula for every woman who wants one.

Many, many thousands of women have birthed with the support of a doula, enjoying the benefits observed by Drs. Kennell and Klaus when they first started their research, and documented again and again since then; shorter labors, lower cesarean rates and reduced interventions.”  (Kennell, et. al 1991)

Doula support has a strong, positive impact on your health and safe labor and birth.  Compared with women who have no support in labor, women who DO have support from a companion who is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a friend or family member are:

• 28% less likely to have a cesarean section

• 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) to speed labor

• 9% less likely to use any pain medication

• 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively

Some pretty convincing statistics.  Have questions?  Please let me know!

Reference: 

Kennell, J., Klaus, M., McGrath, S., Robertson, S., & Hinkley, C. (1991).  Continuous emotional support during labor in a US hospital.  JAMA:  the Journal of the American Medical Association, 265(17), 2197-2201.

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