The Cochrane Review of Continuous support for women during childbirth included 21 randomized controlled trials with 15,060 women with doulas and hospital staff (including 4 newly added trials that compared trained support people from the woman’s own social network (partner, family friends)).
This review confirms previous findings that improved obstetric outcomes are associated with continuous support, especially the support of a doula.
A ‘doula’ labour support companion has the strongest impact on health and safety during labour and birth, compared with women who have no support in labour, or support from a member of the hospital staff, friend or family member.
Women with continuous support from a doula or other independent person were:
- 28% less likely to have a caesarean section
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed labour
- 9% less likely to use any pain medication
- 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively.
- A new finding with this review is that doulas are also more effective in improving outcomes than people in the woman’s social network (partners, family, friends).
The Cochrane Review concluded:
“Continuous support during labour should be the norm, rather than the exception. Policy makers should consider making continuous labor support a covered service, and hospitals should implement programs to offer continuous labor support. In present maternity care environments, benefits of continuous support are likely to be greater with companions who are not hospital staff members than with members of the hospital staff.”
Read the Childbirth ConnectionQuick Facts about Continuous Labour Supporthere
The Cochrane Review of Continuous support for women during childbirth can be found here