January 2016: This excellent article from NPR explains the benefits of having doula support:
Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
Doulas are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth:
Tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
Reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
Reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
Reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows parents who receive support can:
Feel more secure and cared for
Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
Have greater success with breastfeeding
Have greater self-confidence
Have less postpartum depression