Continuous Support in Labor - who cares?

Did you know that in most births in hospitals in the US, all of the clinical care providers are likely caring for multiple labors at a time? For example, a nurse may be assigned to 2-4 patients at any one time in their shift, depending on how busy the Labor and Delivery department is. In order to most efficiently monitor the clinical statistics of each laboring patient, the nurse must go in and out of each room as needed, and often relies on electronic fetal monitoring to know what's happening with the contraction pattern and how baby is dealing with contractions in each patient's room.

As your doula, on the other hand, I support one labor at a time.* From the time I am called to a labor until after the baby is born, my presence and support is continuous, barring extraordinary circumstances, the laboring parents' desire for alone time, and the occasional quick bathroom break! 

The other notable thing about continuous support is that I am here for the long haul with you. I have labored with clients for 12, 18, 24, up to 37 hours! In those long births, clients have usually gone through several shift changes at the hospital before we meet baby. The OB that was on call when we came in may have gone home, slept overnight, had a full day's patient visits, and come back on shift before the baby has come! 

Ok, but still, why should you care about having continuous labor support?

Well, let's turn to one of my favorite blogs, Evidence Based Birth

Rebecca Dekker's amazing model showing how continuous support in labor by doulas leads to better birth outcomes. 

Rebecca Dekker's amazing model showing how continuous support in labor by doulas leads to better birth outcomes. 

Here, Rebecca is reviewing a major study of birth outcomes with and without continuous labor support. Continuous support was shown to increase mobility in labor as well as increasing self-esteem for the laboring parents, while decreasing the perception of pain and anxiety. All of these things lead to lower incidence of epidural usage, pitocin usage, and instrumental delivery (read: cesarean birth, or vaginal birth with forceps or vacuum). There's also evidence to suggest that continuously supported labors are shorter on average (bonus!). And the big kicker? Lower rates of epidural and pitocin usage, along with lower rates of instrumental delivery, are associated with higher birth satisfaction for mama AND better birth outcomes for baby!

So actually, continuous support in labor is a big effing deal. 

*Yes, on rare occassion I may have more than one client in labor at the same time. In that case, I would call in one of my back-up doulas to provide continuous support in my place. It hasn't happened yet, but I know that doesn't mean it won't!

Are you in the Tulsa, OK area and looking for a doula to provide continuous support for your labor and birth? Please be in touch to schedule your free consultation to see if we would be a good fit!