Studies have shown that the presence of a doula at a birth:
lowers the chances of having a delivery with forceps or vacuum-extraction
lowers the chances of having a c-section
causes a mother to request less pain medicine
increases a mother's satisfaction with her birth experience
lowers the chance of using Pitocin
The following excerpt is from an fantastic book titled The Birth Partner, 4th ed. by Penny Simkin (emphasis mine):
"Why consider having a doula? Childbirth is intense, demanding, unpredictable, and painful, and it can last for anywhere from a few hours to 24 or more. Even if you are well-prepared, you may find it difficult to apply your classroom learning in the real situation. If you are not well prepared, all the challenges of labor are baffling and anxiety-producing.
Of course, you will have a nurse and a doctor or midwife who are likely to be kind and caring, but they will probably be very busy with the clinical aspects of the birth, which get the highest priority. Hospital nurses and midwives rarely remain in the room throughout labor, as they have duties outside the room and are often taking care of more than one laboring patient. They work in shifts, so over the course of labor several different professionals are likely to be involved in the mother's care. Doctors rely on the nurses to manage the labor, with phone reports as necessary. They may visit briefly from time to time, and will come if problems arise during labor. and, of course, they are there for the birth.
One of the most positive developments in maternity care is the addition of the birth doula, who guides and supports women and their birth partners continuously through labor and birth. The doula is on call for you, arrives at your home or the hospital when you need her, and remains with you continuously, with few or no breaks, until after the baby is born. The doula is trained and experienced in providing emotional support, physical comfort, and nonclinical advice. She draws on her knowledge and experience as she reassures, encourages, comforts, and empathizes with the mother. She advises the partner about how to help, suggesting when to use particular positions, the bath or shower, and specific comfort measures. A doula cannot and does not try to take over [the birth partner's role], because [the birth partner] knows the mother best and loves her and the baby as no one else does. But there are times when a woman in labor needs more than one helper in labor, and when her partner needs reassurance, advice, and help. The doula does not make decisions for the mom and birth partner or project her personal opinions on the mom and birth partner."
DONA International has published the Doula’s Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice that describes what DONA-certified doulas do and don’t do and outlines the ethics of DONA doula care.
Alice Turner, an Atlanta doula, has created a unique and thorough online “class for the other half” called Supporting Her. It is a concise and spot-on collection of wisdom and what-to-expect nuggets of advice for your birth partner. In it, she explains the benefits of having a doula as part of your birth team. I highly recommend the class to a mama’s birth partner! I am proud to be an affiliate partner of Supporting Her. I have personally taken the online class and worked through the terrific resources she provides in the class. Go here to learn more and sign up!