What if I told you there is something you can add to your maternity care to statistically improve birth outcomes for you and your baby? Would you do it? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not a prenatal exercise or medication. So what is it?
Continuous support. Yep, that’s it.
All you need is someone by your side throughout your labor that has a sole purpose of providing emotional and physical support for you and your partner.
The resource Evidence Based Birth© shares:
"There have been at least 26 randomized, controlled trials that tested the effects of continuous labor support on more than 15,000 people total. These studies were included in a Cochrane Review published in 2017. People in these studies were randomly assigned to either receive one-to-one continuous support from someone or “usual care.” The type of support provided could be from a member of the hospital staff, a doula, a childbirth educator, a retired nurse, or a family member or friend.
The researchers found that, overall, people who received continuous support during labor – meaning that someone never leaves their side – experienced:
25% decrease in the risk of having a Cesarean. The largest decrease in the risk of Cesarean was seen with a doula; using a doula lowered the risk of Cesarean by 39%.
8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Again, the largest effect was seen with doulas; using a doula increased the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth by 15%.
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with your childbirth experience.
10% decrease in the use of any pain medications during labor
shorter labors by about 41 minutes on average
38% decrease in the risk of your baby having a low Apgar score. "
If you are birthing in a hospital setting it is unlikely that your nurse or physician can be by your side continuously. They have other responsibilities to other patients. Have no fear, your doula is here! This is a person whose sole responsibility is to be by your side throughout your entire labor providing emotional, physical, and even spiritual support for you and your partner.
So where do you even find a doula? A great resource is doulamatch.net. You can find doulas near you and even check out their availability. Not sure what services a doula provides? You can reference my doula services as a great starting place.
Also, talk with your provider about the evidence on doulas. Some may not even be aware of the positive outcomes that continuous support can provide. Here is a great one sheet PDF you can take with you to your appointment.
While having a any type of continuous support is extremely beneficial, the greatest outcomes are achieved by having a trained labor support person, like a doula, by your side.