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J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2006 Jul-Aug;35(4):456-64.

A randomized control trial of continuous support in labor by a lay doula.

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Study on Sleep & Functional Performance in Heart Failure at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Nursing, Newark 07101-1709, and Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Saint Peter's University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.



To compare labor outcomes in women accompanied by an additional support person (doula group) with outcomes in women who did not have this additional support person (control group).


Randomized controlled trial.


A women's ambulatory care center at a tertiary perinatal care hospital in New Jersey.


Six hundred nulliparous women carrying a singleton pregnancy who had a low-risk pregnancy at the time of enrollment and were able to identify a female friend or family member willing to act as their lay doula.


The doula group was taught traditional doula supportive techniques in two 2-hour sessions.


Length of labor, type of delivery, type and timing of analgesia/anesthesia, and Apgar scores.


Significantly shorter length of labor in the doula group, greater cervical dilation at the time of epidural anesthesia, and higher Apgar scores at both 1 and 5 minutes. Differences did not reach statistical significance in type of analgesia/anesthesia or cesarean delivery despite a trend toward lower cesarean delivery rates in the doula group.


Providing low-income pregnant women with the option to choose a female friend who has received lay doula training and will act as doula during labor, along with other family members, shortens the labor process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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