Background/Purpose: Women using a doula for support during labor and childbirth is increasing, with 6% of women in 2012 utilizing doulas (Dekker, 2017). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] recommends one-to-one labor support to improve labor outcomes. The purpose of this literature review was to determine the effects of labor support from doulas on birth outcomes. Theoretical Framework: Kolcaba's Theory of Comfort can be used during childbirth. This theory focuses on relief, ease, and transcendence, allowing women the opportunity to rise above the pain and experience comfort, even when their pain is not gone. Doula support is intended to increase the laboring woman's comfort, thereby improving birth outcomes. Methods: Twenty-two primary research articles relevant to birth outcomes as a result of doula support were reviewed. Results/Findings: Doula support during labor results in lower rates of cesarean and operative vaginal deliveries with an increase in normal spontaneous vaginal deliveries, decreased pain and decreased pain medications received during labor, shorter lengths of labor, increased patient satisfaction, increased rates of breastfeeding, decreased rates of oxytocin augmentation, improved neonatal Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes of life, higher rates of perineal integrity, decreased rates of amniotomies, decreased rates of induction, and improved outcomes if induction is used. Conclusion: Doula support during labor results in many benefits for both mother and infant without any associated negative outcomes.
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Otten, M. J. (2019). Effects of Labor Support from Doulas on Birth Outcomes [Masterʼs thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/494