Doula Support… Statistically Speaking


Every now and then I get a client who thrives on information. Facts. Statistics. Data. They want to know the hard numbers. Some just ask because they printed some online list of “Questions to Ask Your Doula”, while others are genuinely curious.


It’s common to get questions such as:


“How many clients have you served who have achieved the birth they were hoping to achieve?” “What percentage of your clients receive an epidural?” “How many clients have you supported through cesarean birth?” “Have you ever had a client need an episiotomy or supported a client needing a forceps or vacuum assisted delivery?” “What is your VBAC rate?”


Having been a doula for several years, I have experience supporting clients through many different scenarios. But off hand, I couldn’t tell you any percentages of how many clients received an intervention versus those who didn’t.


Maybe you have read blogs or seen graphics that show how doulas help reduce the amount of time a woman is in labor or the use of interventions such as epidurals, forceps, and cesareans.


Personally, I don’t understand these statistics. A doula’s role is non-medical, so how can her (or his) presence reduce interventions? It doesn’t. Because the doula isn’t responsible for making medical suggestions or decisions on behalf of the client, the doula is not responsible for these statistics, or ensuring any particular outcome.


The doula should not be interfering to prevent interventions from taking place. It is the client’s job to make her preferences known. It is NOT the doula’s job to ensure that everything happens according to the birth plan. It just isn’t possible. Simply put, a doula cannot save anyone from anything.


In certain circumstances interventions are necessary to save the life of the birthing woman or the baby. Sometimes things happen that are completely opposite of what the birthing parent was hoping for. It has absolutely nothing to do with the doula. Typically, it has nothing to do with the mother either. Things beyond anyone’s control just happen. No amount of position changes or other techniques are a guarantee to prevent intervention.


In my experience many people are hiring doulas with the hope to have an unmedicated, natural birth. While some people achieve this goal, some do not. Sometimes people change their mind about what they previously wanted, other times the situation dictates the choices my clients make. Either way, I have not failed as a doula. My job wasn’t to prevent certain things from happening, rather support choices.

Lets also consider the client who wants interventions. Many women are perfectly happy to give birth with the assistance of modern medicine, be that pain relief with an epidural, augmentation of labor with pitocin, or any other intervention. Some women even choose to have an elective cesarean. While some people may view the use of interventions as negative, others do not and may feel safer with their use. Not everyone views a cesarean section as an “unfavorable outcome”.  At Central Nebraska Doula, these choices, can be and are supported. We have absolutely no preference on how you give birth or the parenting choices you make for your baby.


I have supported many types of birth but I couldn’t tell you how many of my clients chose one option over another. Why? Because I choose not to keep that information.


These aren’t my statistics. It isn’t about me. Hospitals and doctors keep statistics. But doulas?


My clients don’t have to worry about doing something a particular way because they might skew MY statistics, because I keep no such data. What a relief for the birthing woman to not have to give birth the way anyone else thinks she should!


The only statistic that matters to me is the percentage of people who are happy with the service they receive. I strive for that number to be 100%. I don’t want to be hired because I am the doula whose clients receive the least intervention. I want to be hired because I offer the BEST service and support. No matter how your baby enters the world or the choices you, as a parent, make for your child, you have my 100% non-judgmental support.


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