Highlighting the Importance of Continuous Support Throughout Labour and Birth
The Doula Book by John H. Kennell, Marshall H. Klaus and Phyllis H Klaus is a fantastic read that highlights how continuous support, specifically from a birth doula, can positively impact one's birth experience and postnatal period. What a doula is, how they contribute to the dynamics of ALL types of birth both in and out of hospital and comfort measures are some of the many topics covered!
What I was not expecting but was very impressed by was the amount of studies referenced to support the authors' perspective. Many of the referenced studies from the US, Central America, Europe and Africa all identified some of the same benefits of having a doula that the Cochrane Review published earlier this year did. Some research statistics referenced in the book where doulas were present during a woman's labour include...
Cochrane Library Review, 2011
Labour shortened by 25%
Cesarean rate reduced by 45%
Pain medication use reduced by 30%
Synthetic oxytocin use reduced by 40%
Houston Study, page 235
Forceps delivery down by 18%
At six weeks postpartum, the following differences were seen. Women that had a doula present at their birth experienced:
13% reduction in postnatal depression symptoms
41% of mothers felt their relationship with their partner was better following birth
30% fewer babies had a cold or runny nose
25% fewer babies were described as having a poor appetite
22% increase in rates for exclusive breastfeeding
An important chapter in the book looks at the role of fathers during labour and how a doula can support and embrace the birth preferences of a couple. Some fathers, or birth partners, fear a doula will displace them during one of the most intimate moments of their life. A doula's role is not to "replace" anyone but instead to support both people (generally mom + partner) in whatever way they need. The type of emotional and/or physical support varies for everyone because each birth experience is unique and every couple is different. That's the beauty of having a doula! They get to know their clients, learn about their birth preferences and have a vast amount of knowledge and expertise. They have the ability to identify a need during labour and can reach into their doula "tool kit" so they can help provide reassurance and practical support when and where it is needed.
The Doula Book does an exceptional job illustrating how a doula positively impacts the dynamics of birth and is a welcome member to a mother's "birth team."
What I call my "Doula Library" is my professional collection of books, magazines and other pregnancy and birth resources that I allow my clients to borrow from me at any time. The resources mainly cover topics including childbirth education, pregnancy, labour preparation, parenting, essential oils, etc.