The labor doula:
~ provides physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother and others who are attending her.
~ will assist the father or other birth partners by giving suggestions of things that will help the mother, giving them a break, and make sure they eat, drink, and rest to maintain their strength.
~ will assist the family to gather information and ask the questions necessary to make informed decisions when the need arises, although she will never make decisions for them.
~ will assist the mother and her partner to find the best methods to relax and encourage labor, including helping with positioning, breathing, relaxation, massage, and other comfort measures.
~ will never leave the laboring woman, maintaining continuity of care throughout the labor and birth.
~ will not perform any medical tasks, or clinical exams.
~ will not give medical advice or second opinions, and will not project her own goals onto a laboring woman.
Women supported by a doula during labor have been shown to have:
~ 50% reduction in Cesarean rate
~ 25% shorter labor
~ 60% reduction in epidural requests
~ 40% reduction in artificial oxytocin use
~ 30% reduction in analgesic use
~ 30% reduction in forceps delivery
Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas experienced:
~ Less anxiety and depression
~ More confidence with the baby
~ More satisfaction with their partner
Long-term benefits include:
~ Improved breastfeeding
~ Increased time spent with baby
~ More positive maternal assessments of baby’s personality and health, and maternal competence
~ Decreased postpartum depression
Source: Mothering the Mother, by M.H. Klaus, J.H. Kennell, and P.H. Klaus; Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, New York (1993).