I come from a scientific background. I have a degree in Chemistry as well as Medical Laboratory Technology. Before becoming a Birth Doula I worked as a Laboratory Technician. I love research especially on topics I feel passionate about. So this is a post on doula research!
Research* shows that women who use a birth doula are:
less likely to need Pitocin
less likely to have a cesarean birth
less likely to use any pain medication
more likely to rate their childbirth experience positively (regardless of the birth outcome!)
have higher breastfeeding success rates
fewer rates of post partum depression
Why is that? How can I non medical person have such an impact on the birth? The main reason for that, is that birth is highly dependent on the emotions a woman is feeling and her perceived feeling of safety....these two things will impact the hormonal flow that directs the labor and birth process. If the laboring woman is feeling safe, and loved and being cared for, she will be more able to "let go", to trust her instinctual need to move and vocalize, and relax her body. And that's exactly what a doula job is: to continuously support the mother and her partner whether it's physically, emotionally or by providing information.
*Read the review of studies about continuous birth support including 23 trials (22 providing data), from 16 countries, involving more than 15,000 women in a wide range of settings and circumstances here: