Doula is an ancient Greek term that has come to mean "mothering the mother". A doula is a trained labor assistant; community doulas provide free pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breast feeding support to mothers who do not need long term social support. Experience and research are demonstrating that doulas help women have better birth outcomes, more successful breast feeding and less post partum discomfort.
Fourteen randomized clinical trials have documented numerous positive benefits of the use of doulas during the childbearing years, as summarized in a meta analysis by Hodnett, Gates, Hoffmeyer and Sakala, 2003. Positive effects include enhanced maternal and neonatal outcomes, increased psychosocial benefits, and valuable impacts on the healthcare system such as cost savings, reduced resource utilization, and increased patient satisfaction.
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