In a study conducted at a public general hospital in Mexico City, Mexico, from March 1997 to February 1998, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of support from a doula during labor to reduce the rate of cesarean section.

The study included 100 pregnant women who were at term and in active labor, had 3 cm or more cervical dilatation, were nuliparous (had never given birth before), had no previous uterine incision, and possessed adequate pelvises. The group was randomly divided into two subgroups: One received doula support, while the other did not. Measurements were recorded on the duration of labor; use of pitocin; and whether or not the birth was a vaginal delivery or cesarean section. The characteristics and gestational age were similar between groups.

Results showed that support by doulas during labor was associated with significant reductions in cesarean birth and pitocin administration. There was also a trend toward shorter labors and less epidural usage among women who received doula support during labor compared with those who did not receive such support.

This study confirms findings from other trials measuring the impact of a doula’s presence during labor and birth—that it is associated with positive outcomes.

A second study conducted in a Mexican Institute of Social Security public hospital, explored the hypothesis that psychosocial support from a doula increases exclusive and full breastfeeding by improving the mother’s emotional status, shortening the duration of labor, and decreasing medical intervention.

The study looked at 724 women with no previous vaginal delivery and no indications for cesarean section delivery and found that women who received psychosocial support during labor and the immediate postpartum period had a higher frequency of exclusive breastfeeding 1 month after birth than women who received routine care.

We all know that breast milk is best for your baby, and it’s great to see that this study shows that a doula can help you breastfeed.

The results suggest that psychosocial support during labor and the immediate postpartum period should be part of a comprehensive strategy to promote breastfeeding.

The Madriella Doula Network has many members in Mexico and around the world, and the curriculum is available in 108 different languages.