Sometimes people will ask me why they should hire a doula - what are the benefits? I can share with them testimonials from other parents and my own experience, but it's also nice to be able to provide evidence from studies. The Cochrane Collaboration has some interesting numbers about the benefit of continuous support for women in labor:
Women who received continuous labour support were more likely to give birth ’spontaneously’, i.e. give birth with neither caesarean nor vacuum nor forceps. In addition, women were less likely to use pain medications, were more likely to be satisfied, and had slightly shorter labours. Their babies were less likely to have low 5-minute Apgar Scores. No adverse effects were identified. We conclude that all women should have continuous support during labour. Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s social network, is experienced in providing labour support, and has at least a modest amount of training, appears to be most beneficial.
While having anyone there specifically for support is beneficial, it did note that it was more helpful when the support person was there only in that role (not a hospital staff member or other care team provider), when the person was trained in the role of a doula, and when they were NOT a member of the mom's social network (a friend or family member.) Of course there are times that a friend or family member is the best doula for you, and only you can determine who will best fill that role for you. 🙂