The Research

Hodnett, ED., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, GJ., Sakala, C. and Weston, J. (2011) 'Continuous support for women during childbirth (Review)'' in The Cochrane Library (2011) Issue 2.

Meta-analysis of previous research studies showed that women who received continuous support (especially from someone who was not a member of the woman's social circle, or a member of hospital staff) through labour and birth:

  • were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal birth;
  • were less likely to have assisted or caesarean births;
  • had shorter labours;
  • had less analgesia;
  • were less likely to have a baby with low Apgar scores; and
  • were less likely to report dissatisfaction with their birth experience.

Klaus, MH., Kennell, JH. and Klaus, PH. (1993) Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth. De Capo Press Inc.

The authors show that doulas:

  • shorten first-time labor by an average of two hours
  • decrease the chance of a cesarean section by 50%
  • decrease the need for pain medication
  • help fathers participate with confidence
  • increase success in breast-feeding