Numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of having continuous support from a trained birth doula.
I've included some top links here.
What I bring are essential elements of care that the rest of the team aren't. And it's this exactly that we know makes such an enormous positive impact on how labouring women do and why there's less use of pain medications, with reductions in interventions and cesarean rates. It isn't a number though and it's something that can be hard to wholly describe.
It IS my presence - ever mindful of how the woman is doing from moment to moment, encouraging and reassuring, calming and grounding. Bringing my years of knowledge/experience to this woman, here and now, understanding what her specific needs are. Ensuring that her partner is doing well also! Partners are freed up when I am present so they can be there fully, without worry or feeling useless. This in turn adds to the woman's sense of well being, so she relaxes and focuses on birthing.
There is something wonderful that happens when women are tended to in this manner, that makes all the difference for their experience. The more secure they feel, the better labour goes. Yet when labour and birth take a different path, where other choices need to be made, my care still proves invaluable. I'm focused on emotional and mental well being, not tracings on the monitor.
Care providers have their role. Their attention is focused on the health of mom and baby, through the lens of clinical care. We of course do need that, and the complementary care of the doula's non-medical support.
My care has so many facets. It shows up in the littlest of details, in the simplest of actions, such as wiping a sweaty brow with a cool cloth. One may ask how do we get from that to 60% reduction in women requesting epidurals? You'd need to ask the women.
"I wanted support during labour, which you can't always count on from your partner or the nurses, all the time. It's her experience... which partners don't have of being at births and of having had a baby. We'll always be grateful for your attention to us at our daughter's birth." Shauna