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Doulas & The Evidence Supporting Having One | World Doula Week 2022

birth prep intervention labor Mar 24, 2022

Hello! This week, for World Doula Week 2022 we're revisiting our episode on Doulas. 

This week's video includes:

  1. Storytime about my spouse and I trying to decide whether or not to hire a doula (& our eventual wonderful experience with our doula when birthing our first baby.)
  2. What I love about being a doula. (I love sharing knowledge to increase birthing people's agency and reduce fear, I love offering physical and emotional labor support, I ensuring that birthing families know their options and are making informed decisions, grounded in knowledge and love).
  3. The evidence supporting doulas. (Short version: Doula support reduced the likelihood of giving birth via cesarean surgery by 38%. Doulas increased birthing person AND birth partner satisfaction after the birth. Doula support reduced the risk of the infant having a low Apgar score at birth by 39%.)  

I truly love being a Doula. It is an honor to be a part of this transformational life experience. Happy World Doula Week 2022!

Full Transcript:

[00:00:00] Hi, I'm Cara Lee with Brave Journey. Today for this video, our topic is "Doulas Are Awesome, I'm Super Biased, But There's Evidence". Seriously though, doulas are becoming more and more popular and for good reason; there's anecdotal evidence and there is actual, actual evidence to support it.

Now on to our topic, birth doulas. Anecdotal story time: when my spouse and I were expecting our first baby, we were on the fence about whether or not to hire a doula.

I was working closely at the time with social workers, therapists, and trauma specialists.

And I would hear from my friends and colleagues story after story, both about difficult births that had lasting [00:01:00] negative impacts. And then also from friends who had had doulas who had fantastic experiences, feeling supported, feeling like they knew all their options during their births, and feeling like they were an active participant in their birth. Feeling empowered, no matter the outcome.

Then my spouse scientist, a neuroscientist, he looked at the data and he found studies that showed that having a doula lower the risk of sincerity and by 39%, 39%. So between our two, uh, information gathering strategies, we did decide to hire a doula. We scraped together our pennies and we hired our sweet doula. Hi Julie, if you're watching. And she was amazing. At our birth she offered emotional support, physical support. She coached my spouse and offering physical support, showed him what to do. Held me up through contractions to give my spouse a break, coached us both in various labor positions, especially when I was feeling discouraged.

She [00:02:00] was so awesome.

She gently shushed the medical staff who had started getting chatted while I was pushing. They were chatting about their weekend and she just gently reminded them to shut up, shut up. Um, she was really respectfully protecting my birth space. It was just wonderful.

So after I had my baby, I made a career change and I became a birth doula.

I love offering physical and emotional support to birthing families. I love sharing knowledge to reduce fear, to increase agency. I love ensuring birthing families know their options and are active participants in their birth. I love making sure that birthing people are making choices, grounded in knowledge and love and bravely birth their own way.

So I get jazzed, obviously talking about doulas.

Professional birth doulas offer emotional physical support. They offer knowledge about birth, and they're generally a comforting, continuous, steady presence to encourage working people [00:03:00] and their partners if they get discouraged.

Doulas are familiar with various birthing locations and they help birthing families navigate unfamiliar surroundings. Birth doulas can help translate unfamiliar medical options into familiar terms and can help ensure birthing people are aware of all of their options. Birth doulas offer continuous labor support- something most hospital-based midwives, nurses, and obstetricians cannot guarantee due to shift changes., if a shift change during a birthing person's birth, then they get a whole new team.

So here's some evidence, the continuous labor support of any kind decreases the risk of ceasarean section by 25%, which is pretty significant. Having a birth doula decreases the risk by 39 or 38%, which is even larger.

Continuous labor support of any kind increased the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth by 8%. But having a doula increased the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth by 15%.

And having a doula is linked with a 31% [00:04:00] decrease in the risk of a birthing person, being dissatisfied with their birth. And having a doula is linked to the 10% decrease in the use of pain medications.

Lastly, continuously report is linked with a 38% decrease in the risk of the baby having a low Apgar score. So a low Apgar score, it means the baby is struggling for a bit when they're first born, struggling to breathe, struggling to adjust outside of the womb and having a doula can decrease the likelihood of a low score. Of the baby having difficulty.

So all in all, I know I'm biased, but there's really good evidence for doulas. Doulas decrease pain and anxiety. Birthing people are much more likely to be satisfied with their birth. Birth partners are much more likely to be satisfied with the birth. So doulas benefit birthing people and birth partners.

So I love doulas. I love being a doula. I love supporting doulas. A really great place to find a doula is on doula match. Um, [00:05:00] And if you're having trouble finding a doula in your community, definitely send out feelers and ask for referrals, to find a local doula in your area. So thank you so much for listening to this.

Listen to me, talk about how much I love doulas for like six minutes straight. I probably could have gone on for twice as long. You're welcome that I didn't.

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Let me know what you think. Send me a DM, leave a comment. I love hearing from you. And let me know if there's ever anything that you would like to hear me talk about something you wish you knew before you birth your baby or something that you'd like to know right now.

Any topic is on the table. Thank you.



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