Parents-to-be are far more likely to attempt and continue breastfeeding, and less likely to require intervention during their child’s birth, if they have turned to a doula for support, according to the findings of a new survey.
The survey has been published by Doula UK ahead of World Doula Week, which begins on Thursday 22nd March 2012. It gathered data from 105 doulas and their 1,106 birth clients across a range of critical birth-related areas.
The most dramatic figures relate to breastfeeding and birth interventions. Women who used doulas need significantly less medical intervention in the birth process and had greatly increased breastfeeding success compared against the national average.
With over 500 members, Doula UK represents the largest number of doulas in the UK. Its doulas work with women and their families to prepare for the birth of their baby, helping them to fully explore their options, make informed decisions and support them as they adjust to life with a newborn baby.
Of the doula-supported families, 93 per cent attempted breastfeeding and 70 per cent were still exclusively breastfeeding after six weeks. The figures are significantly higher than the latest national figures from the Department of Health, which show only 74.1 per cent of new mums attempt breastfeeding, and just 47 per cent are still exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks.
The survey showed that only 12 per cent of doula-supported births required medical interventions, such as the use of forceps, ventouse or Caesarean sections, compared to the latest national figures of 37.3 per cent.
Bridget Baker, Board Member and Head of Doula Mentoring at Doula UK, said: “Our survey findings echo previous research in to the substantial benefits of doula support during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. The results show that when women and their partners are well informed about breastfeeding, are signposted to good resources and have someone to turn to who is there to listen and offer unconditional support there are significant improvements in breastfeeding success rates.
“Elsewhere, the survey found that the frequency of medical interventions, that many women wish to avoid, decrease by over 25% in births supported by doulas. Though our doulas support any kind of birth and are not there to change outcomes it is startling that when women have this experienced and continuous support available to them during labour, they are much less likely to require serious interventions like Caesarean sections.
“Whatever path a birth takes our doulas always work with the midwives and other medical professionals to ensure that parents are kept fully informed about the choices that are available. This allows parents to confidently make decisions with which they are comfortable with in a nurturing and positive environment.”
To find out more about Doula UK and its network of doulas visit www.doula.org.uk
World Doula Week will launch with World Doula Day on Thursday 22nd March 2012. The international week coincides with the spring equinox, which in a number of cultures represents the return of fertility. For more information on World Doula Week visit www.worlddoulaweek.com