Benefits of Having a Doula

In their book, Mothering The Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth, Marshall Klaus, John Kennell and Phyllis Klaus summarize scientific studies which have been carried out on the advantages of doula-assisted births. The evidence cited is drawn from six randomized, controlled studies.

In all the above studies, the doulas used soothing words, touch and encouragement. They explained the procedures as they occurred and translated medical terms into laymen's terms. The results of the studies were as follows:

Reduced the overall cesarean rate by 50%
Reduced the length of labor by 25%

Reduced oxytocin use by 40%

Reduced the use of pain medication by 30%

Reduced forceps deliveries by 40%

Reduced requests for epidural pain medication by 60%
Reduced incidences of maternal fever
Reduced the number of days newborns spent in NICU (neo-natal infant care unit)

Reduced the amount of septic workups performed on newborns

Resulted in higher rates of breastfeeding

Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal confidence

Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal and newborn health

Resulted in decreased rates of postpartum depression

Klaus and Kennel speculate that the mere presence of a doula had a beneficial effect on the emotional state of the mother, resulting in a decrease in catecholamines (adrenaline). This relaxed state allows uterine contractions to be more effective and reduces the occurrence of compromised uterine blood flow.