Continuous Labour Support – Better Results than Ever!

Fabulous news!  An updated 2017 Cochrane review has demonstrated better results than ever for women and their newborns who have continuous support throughout labour! “Continous labor support appears to offer impressive benefits and no harms to women and newborns, especially when provided by someone in a doula role.”.

What is Cochrane? It’s an independent organisation that, for 20 years, has produced systematic reviews of primary health care research.   These reviews are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care resources.  Cochrane reviews are some of your best tools for assessing your options for pregnancy and birth and when discussing your birth plans with your care provider.

For a quick but thorough understanding of the updated 2017 Cochrane review, check out the Fact Sheet from The National Partnership for Women & Families in the US.  I’ve shared some highlights, below.

“What are the benefits of continuous labor support? Per the 2017 update, across all relevant studies, Sister Support Doulawomen with continuous labor support seemed more likely to have had:

  • Spontaneous vaginal births (with neither vacuum extraction nor forceps)
  • Shorter labors

Women with continuous labor support seemed less likely to have had:

  • A negative birth experience
  • Any pain medication while giving birth
  • Regional pain medication (such as epidural or spinal)
  • An instrumental vaginal birth (with vacuum extraction or forceps)
  • A cesarean birth
  • A low 5-minute Apgar score (rating of the baby’s status shortly after birth)

Each of these outcomes was statistically more likely for women with continuous labor support versus none.”

Another great take home message?  The TYPE of continuous support makes a significant difference in several key areas.  The Cochrane review compared three different types of continuous labour support:  that provided by a doula, by hospital staff or by members of the woman’s social network.

“Among the three types of providers of continuous support, someone in a doula role appears to offer the greatest set of benefits to laboring women. In comparison with women receiving no continuous labor support, women with doula role support were an impressive:

  • 39 percent less likely to have a cesarean birth
  • 35 percent less likely to have a negative birth experience
  • 15 percent more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth”

So, if you were still wondering whether doula support really makes a difference in birth outcomes, you now have a very clear answer from the updated 2017 Cochrane review!