The Importance of Doula's & Continuous SupportAug 14, 2021
Four ways to support women during labour
A Cochrane review, published in March 2019, brings together data from 51 studies across 22 countries looking at support provided by labour companions, including doulas.
First, we found through providing information, labour companions bridge communication gaps between health workers, such as doctors and midwives, and the woman. They keep her informed about the process of childbirth and her progress through labour. They may also provide her with tips around effectively using non-pharmacological pain relief, such as meditation or relaxation.
Second, labour companions advocate for the woman, speaking up in support of her and her preferences.
Third, labour companions provide practical support, which could include encouraging the woman to move around, providing massage, and holding her hand.
And finally, labour companions offer emotional support, helping the woman to feel in control and confident by praising and reassuring her, and providing a continuous physical presence.
Improved outcomes for mums and babies
The benefits of continuous support during labour and birth were highlighted in an earlier Cochrane review, which analysed data from 26 studies across 17 countries involving more than 15,000 women.
Continuous support was provided by a woman’s partner, family member, or friend; hospital staff (student midwives); or a doula.
The review found continuous support could improve several health outcomes for both the woman and her baby. Women may be more likely to have a vaginal birth (without the need for caesarean, forceps or vacuum extraction).
In addition, women who receive continuous support may be less likely to use pain medications, may have shorter labours, and may be more likely to be satisfied with their birth experience.
The babies of women who receive continuous support may be less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores, which assess babies’ health and well-being at birth and shortly afterwards.
Doulas are an invaluable part of a persons birth and make a difference and with the current COVID-19 situation we are seeing more and more birthing people and women having their chosen support team reduced. Now more than ever is a time where continuous support is so very much needed and the importance of doulas - both in birth and postpartum is being truly highlighted.
Bohren MA, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C, Fukuzawa RK, Cuthbert A. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub6