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In the News: Backed by U research, doulas effectively help women through childbirth

In sweeping fashion, more women are choosing to have doulas present during childbirth.

Essentially an effective communicator between patients and medical personnel, doulas help women stay comfortable during the birthing process by providing emotional and physical support. Doulas are different from midwives in that they don’t assist with the actual labor and birth.

Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Health Policy Management at the University of Minnesota, has extensively studied the impact of doulas in the delivery room.

“There’s really good data documenting that continuous emotional labor support leads to positive birth outcomes, with the strongest effects coming from someone who has specialized training and who is not a family member, friend, or employee of the hospital—meaning someone like a doula,” said Kozhimannil.

Typically meeting with mothers once before the birth to discuss the birth plan, doulas remain present for the duration of labor and meet with the mother a few days after.

According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Listening to Mothers, the use of birth doulas has risen significantly. This may be due in part to more states reimbursing doula care through Medicaid, a measure Kozhimannil found highly beneficial for patients.

Next July, Minnesota will begin Medicaid reimbursements for doula care as part of its Omnibus Health Bill.

Read more about doulas from DONA International, one of the oldest and largest doula training and certification organizations.

Read a story on doula care featuring Kozhimannil from The Daily Beast.

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