Using a doula is not a new concept. Women have been helping other women give birth throughout history. If you visit an art museum, you will see that in historical art depicting childbirth, it's women who are in attendance. In many countries of the world today, doulas are commonplace. There are many, many doulas in the United States, certified and non-certified. There are over 1000 certified doulas under Doulas of North America alone! This does not take into account other organizations which certify, or the many doulas who are not certified by an organization.
Studies of childbirth with and without labor support have been done all over the world, for example, in Dublin, Johannesburg, Houston, Helsinki, Canada, and Guatemala. Statistics have been gathered from these randomized studies and show that there are many ummistakable benefits to having a doula-attended childbirth. According to the compilation performed by Marshall H. Klaus, M.D., John H Kennell, M.D., and Phyllis H. Klaus, M. Ed.,C.S.W., published in the book Mothering the Mother in 1993 (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company), the following were outcomes of labor-supported childbirth as opposed to childbirth without personal and professional labor support:
Randomized Controlled Trials on Labor Support
A 50% reduction in the number of necessary cesarean sections
A 25% reduction in the length of labor
A 40% reduction in the need for oxytocin (pitocin) to stimulate a slowed labor
A 30% reduction in requests for pain medications, such as narcotics
A 30% reduction in the number of forceps deliveries
A 60% reduction in the number of requests for epidural anesthesia
It was also determined that there were fewer cases of maternal and infant fever. Maternal fever can result in the administration of antibiotics, usually by intravenous route. Infant fever can result in septic workups on the baby, and possibly time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital.
Initial attempts and future success at breastfeeding were improved, and mothers were able to spend more time with their new baby. Mothers were more successful in bonding with their baby, and felt more positively about their baby's personality, competence and health. Mothers have also shown more pride and confidence in their ability to care for their child, and there was a decrease in the incidence of post-partum depression.