Yes, they really can! Many studies have demonstrated the benefits a doula can have on labor and birth, both for mothers and babies! They are also a wonderful support for the mother’s partner! For International Doula Month, DONA International shared six ways doulas improve labor and birth (although there are certainly more than six!). When birth includes a doula, we are more likely to see:
1. A 25% decrease in the risk for cesarean section
2. An 8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
3. A 10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
4. An average decrease in length of labor by 41 minutes
5. A 38% decrease in the baby's risk of a low five minute Apgar score
6. A 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Additional benefits include (from Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn, 4th ed., and The Journal of Perinatal Education: Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes):
1. A decreased likelihood of instrumental (forceps or vacuum) delivery.
2. A two-times decreased risk for a birth complication involving the mother or her baby.
3. Significantly higher likelihood of initiating breastfeeding.
The report published in The Journal of Perinatal Education titled Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes further states that “with the support of doulas, many women are able to forego epidurals, avoid cesarean births, and have less stressful births. A skilled doula empowers a woman to communicate her needs and perceptions and actualize her dream of a healthy, positive birth experience.” That all sounds pretty wonderful to me, and it’s no surprise that the popularity of doulas has only increased in recent years!
No two people are alike, and no two births are alike. This is your individual, personal journey into motherhood. Doulas support, empower, and advocate for you in whatever your ideal birth experience is.