Popping The Question
What many people should know when they are making their first decisions about pregnancy and birth is asking for their hospital AND care provider's statistics on their cesarean rates for first-time, low-risk (no pre-existing conditions, head down baby, carried to term).
Hospital statistics aren't necessarily indicative of how the group you've chosen practices as some providers can either drive those statistics way up, or way down. For example, Hospital A can have a primary cesarean rate (first-child cesarean birth) of 50%. Group 1 can have a primary cesarean rate of 10% whereas, Group 2 can have a primary cesarean rate of 90%. Both Group 1 and Group 2 deliver babies at Hospital A, making Hospital A's average cesarean rate 50%.
"I Do The Numbers"
One effect that doulas can have on birth outcomes is lowering the risk of cesarean by up to 28%! Seeing this number might get someone thinking "if I've chosen to deliver my baby at Hospital A with a 50% cesarean rate, and hire a doula, then my chances of a cesarean are 50% - 28% = 22%!"
This is how the math works:
50% x 28% = 0.50 x 0.28 = 0.14
0.50 - 0.14 = 0.36 = 36% chance of cesarean birth if delivering at Hospital A + a doula
To simplify the mental gymnastics, I created this chart below of some of Austin's most popular maternity hospitals.
In addition to helping lower cesarean rates, doulas can have a significant effect on lowering the rates on many common interventions - a phenomenon only seen in doulas and no other type of support person. You can check out this information on the Evidence Based Birth® article about the evidence on doulas here (I encourage you to check the studies/references at the end of the article!).
Rebecca Dekker, founder of Evidence Based Birth®, created this conceptual model to hypothesize why doulas have such a strong effect on improving birth outcomes.
No matter what kind of birth you envision for yourself, keep your options open in knowing exactly what a doula can offer. There are tons of ways that doulas can support your goals for better outcomes for you and your baby.