What is continuous labour support?
To better understand what a doula does, we need to look at the term continuous labour support.
The BC Doula Services Association has said that the meaning for doula has come to be known as a professionally trained women who provides continuous, non medical care, and support to women in labour.
Doula’s provide support to mothers and families by offering praise, reassurance, and measures to improve the comfort of a mother.
Dictionary. com use these definitions (as related to labour)
- Uninterrupted time; without cessation
- Being in immediate connection or spatial relationship
- To undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission
- To sustain under trail or affliction
- To maintain by supplying with things necessary to exist
- To uphold
- To maintain or advocate
- To act with or second
- Productive activity
- Physical or mental work, especially of a hard or fatiguing kind
- The physical effort and periodic uterine contractions of child birth
- The interval from the onset of these contractions to childbirth
- To strive toward a goal; work hard
- To be in the actual process of giving birth
When I look at these definitions in a whole, I come up with the term of doula and continuous labour support to mean:
- A women who maintains close, constant, uninterrupted proximity to the women in labour for the duration of her productive, physical and mental process of giving birth to her baby. Together the women and the doula work to achieve the common goal of a safe, present and pleasant birth.
Lets look at some facts regarding continuous labour support and doulas
In a clinical study of 15,000 women who participated in 21 randomized controlled trials, continuous labour support (best evidence ) was shown to have clinically meaningful benefits for women and their infants and no harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth (Hodnett et al., 2011)
- Women who laboured without continuous support had longer labours and were less likely to have “spontaneous” vaginal births.
- Women were more likely too
- Have an epidural or other “regional” analgesia to manage pain
- Use any type of pain medication
- Give birth by C-Section
- Give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
- Give birth to a baby with a lower agar after 5 minuets
- Be dissatisfied with or negatively rate their child birth experience
The effects of continuous labour support were strongest when the person that was providing that support was neither a member of the hospital or a person within the women’s social circle. It was when the presence of support was their solely to provide one on one care. ( the doula)
Studies have shown again and again that the benefits of having a doula present at your labour and delivery far out way labouring without a doula.
These are statistics such as:
- 28-50% less likely to have a C-Section
- 31-40% less chance of the use of synthetic oxytocin
- 9% less likely to use any pain medications
- 34% less likely to rate child birth negatively
- 25% decrease time in labour
These are just some of the wonderful reasons why every women should be entitled to a doula.
My husband (partner) is my left hand and my doula is my right
From Doulas Making A Difference