Doulas are an important part of a woman’s birth experience. They improve birth outcomes, help the mother feel connected to her baby, and have been found to reduce the rate of cesarean delivery. But is there evidence to back up the use of doulas during childbirth? Let’s explore these questions to determine whether doulas should be considered a human right. And how can a doula help a mother in labor?
Doulas are a human right
Doulas support the mother’s social and physical needs during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. They advocate for Black women in the healthcare system and help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Women who receive continuous support during childbirth are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth, experience fewer complications, and have shorter labor times than women who do not have doulas. They also reduce the number of women who need cesarean sections and have shorter labors.
They improve birth outcomes
Doulas are often asked, “Why do I need a doula?” The fact is that partners are not the only people who need emotional support during childbirth. While partners are intimately familiar with the woman giving birth, they also have many different roles to play, which may be exhausting, exciting, or terrifying. But doulas have been trained and have attended many births to know exactly what laboring couples need, and how best to provide it.
They help women feel connected
Doulas provide prenatal support and advocacy for new mothers. Research has shown that black women often feel disconnected from healthcare providers because of their race. This disconnect is compounded by the fact that the healthcare system is not as responsive to Black women’s concerns as it is to white women. This is exacerbated by the high rates of chronic health conditions in black women, which also contribute to higher risk of complications.
They reduce rates of cesarean delivery
In a population-based study, doulas reduce rates of cesarean birth by almost 40 percent. This reduction is particularly significant among preterm births, a condition that makes mothers more likely to have a cesarean delivery. The study included women with multiple gestations and those with suspected fetal macrosomia. But more research is needed to determine the precise causes of the reduction in cesarean births.
They reduce rates of postpartum depression
Doulas are trained in childbirth education and act as educators for new parents. According to a study by Mathematica, postpartum depression costs society $2.2 billion each year, with Black women suffering the greatest financial burdens. In addition, these problems are often stigmatized, so Black women are less likely to seek treatment. Doulas can detect the symptoms of postpartum depression early and refer clients to a psychologist for further evaluation.
They combat racism
One of the ways doulas combat racism is by offering nonclinical support to clients. A doula provides nonclinical support in childbirth through various means, such as counter pressure massage, hot and cold therapy, and touch. By providing support, doulas help women minimize the risk of mistreatment and advocate for their clients. A central element of anti-racist birthwork is time of intention care. This enables Black clients to receive care that is appropriate for their culture and experience, while minimizing the impact of racism on their families.