In celebration of having now attended forty births, I am developing a series of blog posts on just a few of the myriad reasons that make hiring a doula an awesome choice. This portion looks at some of the studies and statistics regarding doula care. (Note: there has been a HUGE amount of studying on this topic, and I have a link for everything. This is such a well-documented aspect of doula care!)
1. Shorter Labors: When a doula attends a birth, the length of labor tends to be 25% shorter than non-doula-attended births. No one wants to be in labor forever; let’s work together to get that sweet baby out!
2. Fewer Interventions: One intervention tends to open up a concept called “The Cascade of Interventions;” meaning that, with each intervention from the medical staff, the likelihood of several more increases. Doula care helps hold those at bay….when a mother is feeling supported and safe, it helps her body be able to relax and ease her baby out.
3. Less chance of Birth by Cesarean: this is directly related to the above point. If there are fewer interventions, a Birth by Cesarean becomes less likely.
4. Easier, Happier Postpartum: One of the most exciting things I learned as I studied to become a doula was about the Sensitive Period immediately surrounding birth. When a mother is cared for with love and respect just before and just after delivering her baby, she deeply internalizes that love and is able to withstand the backlash of postpartum hormones just a bit more. Knowing that I am able to have a positive effect that lasts for months is a vital part of my work.
5. Fewer requests for Pain Meds: When a mother is supported and cared for, she doesn’t feel the need for anesthesia as much.
6. Higher Chance of Spontaneous Vaginal Birth: “Spontaneous” does not, unfortunately, mean that your baby simply pops right out, but that a doctor or midwife didn’t need to use a vacuum or forceps. Spontaneous means a mother pushed a baby out on her own strength, and doulas increase that likelihood. I have actually seen a fantastic forceps-assisted birth, and don’t feel that it’s necessarily something to be afraid of, but again, every intervention opens up the possibility of other interventions.
7. Viewing Labor and Birth as ” VERY positive:” Birthing a baby is an amazing, powerful process that will be vividly remembered for your whole life. I want you to be able to remember how fantastic it was, and having doula care helps mothers to view all the events in their labor in perspective, with an overall picture of strength and good.
8. Reduction in Hospital Bills: This is kind of a fun one. Remember the above point about typically needing fewer interventions when a doula is helping? That has a lovely side effect of naturally lowering hospital costs. It has actually been shown to be such a significant reduction that it’s one of the main talking points that doula organizations are having now with medical insurance companies in the hope that doula care will be routinely covered. Having a doula around, even with the expense of paying her fee, actually tends to save money.
9. Greater rate of Breastfeeding: The greatest factor in hleping a mother have success in her goals for breastfeeding are support, encouragement, and a little bit of hands-on knowledge. Doulas help with all of that!
10. Those beautiful babies are less likely to have lower APGAR scores: APGAR is the acronym used to asses the general health of a newborn at one and five minutes of life. The letters stand for Appearance (their skin color; are they “pinking up” nicely?) Pulse (gotta double check that their heart is doing its job!) Grimace (any facial expression showing some surprise or protest about the sudden change in environment) Activity (it’s good to see a baby moving) and Respiration (how well they’re breathing). With doula care, babies tend to not have lower APGAR scores. I believe that this relates to the reduction of medical interventions, helping baby to start their life with a little less physical stress.