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MADISON – Professional doula labor support in a hospital setting would improve birth outcomes and decrease medical expenses in Wisconsin and the country, according to a report in the current issue of WMJ (vol. 112, no. 2). Doulas who provide labor support offer women comfort and encouragement during the active phase of labor, birth and immediate postpartum period.
“Research has shown doula support to be associated with a wide range of positive effects on birth outcomes, maternal emotions and self-esteem during the postpartum period,” according to the report. Birth outcomes include cesarean deliveries, instrumental deliveries and regional analgesia use.
The authors utilized results in the Cochrane Review of “Continuous Support for Women during Childbirth” to estimate procedure reduction and cost savings in Wisconsin using birth statistics from 2010. Produced by The Cochrane Collaboration, Cochrane Reviews help ensure that health care decisions throughout the world can be informed by high quality, timely research evidence.
Using the 2010 data, the authors estimated that a professional doula providing only in-hospital labor support would yield an estimated cost savings of more than $420 per delivery or $530 per low-risk delivery. To accurately reflect published studies on labor support, only low-risk deliveries were used for intervention reduction calculations.
“A system-based change in how laboring mothers are supported would be an innovative step that would put Wisconsin at the forefront of cost-effective health care, reducing interventions while improving outcomes,” the authors wrote.
Professional doulas typically are women who are trained and experienced in meeting the emotional needs of women and their families throughout the perinatal period.
Published by the Wisconsin Medical Society, WMJ is devoted to the interests of the medical profession and health care in the Midwest. This peer-reviewed publication, which is available in print and electronic format, is one of the few state medical society-sponsored medical journals that publish a large amount of original research and academic content.