There are many ways in which professional labor support impacts birth positively.
Studies have shown that labor support has many benefits to both the mother and the baby. One study that demonstrates this was published in June 2008 in Birth. According to Susan K. McGrath, PhD, and John H. Kennell, MD, birthing individuals who received professional doula support had a significantly lower cesarean delivery rate than women without a doula, 13.4% versus 25.0%.
The individuals with professional doulas were also less likely to receive epidurals, 64.7% versus 76.0%.
A really exciting aspect of the study was that among the individuals with induced labor, the ones with the support of a professional doula had a lower rate of cesarean delivery than the control group, 12.5% versus 58.8%.
Another study published in 2012, in Cochrane, shows those individuals who received continuous labor support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medications or cesarean deliveries.
Those individuals also reported more positive feelings toward childbirth and the babies had higher Apgar scores.
Specifically, when continuous labor support is provided by a professional doula, there is a 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin, 28% decrease in the risk of cesarean delivery, 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth, 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief, 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery, and a 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience.
Professional labor support is further encouraged by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and backed by a Cochrane study done in July 2013 that states, “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 labor support, and has at least a modest amount of training, appears to be most beneficial.” This is because professional doulas receive proper compensation for their time, are there to provide a service, and are unbiased towards the situation (all things that friends simply can’t provide given their emotional connections to you and the outcomes of the birth).