A new study in the American Journal of Public Health has revealed that doula support in childbirth is associated with a 40% decrease in cesarean births.
While I am not really surprised at the results, given all of the studies and evidence Klaus and Kennell have given us these past 30 years, this is an important study because the demographics used in this study of 1079 are Medicaid recipients. And this is HUGE for those managing or beginning community based doula programs.
In the study based in Minnesota, doula supported births had a cesarean rate of 22.3% while other Medicaid recipients had a 31.5% cesarean rate.
Katy Backes Kozhimannil PhD, MPA, assistant professor at the School of Public Health at the university of Minnesota, Minneapolis and her colleagues concluded that half of all states would save money if they employed doulas at $200 per birth and reduced cesarean deliveries to 22.3% of Medicaid births. Savings vary according to state reimbursement practices and cesarean delivery rate but could reach more than $2.5 million for up a quarter of all states.
I believe that if we really want to improve maternity health care and reduce medical costs, doulas (and other non-pharmacologic pain relief methods) should be instituted immediately into US maternity care.
The evidence is there. What are we waiting for?