One of Louisiana’s busiest birthing hospitals hired doulas on staff.

ICYMI: One of Louisiana’s busiest birthing hospitals hired doulas on staff. Can they improve outcomes?

In case you missed it, this week The Advocate published an article about the Well Mama study being conducted at Woman’s Hospital that is evaluating whether support provided by doula navigators can lead to more positive pregnancy outcomes. Louisiana has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, and doulas have been shown to help mothers become more involved in their health care and reduce stress during delivery.  

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Keyunna Ceaser had already given birth six times. She wanted to do things differently for the seventh. She figured it would be her last baby, so she started researching the possibility of adding a doula to her birthing team and having an unmedicated birth. Doulas are not health care providers and they do not perform deliveries, but they provide emotional and physical support for patients and can help coach them through pregnancy, labor and delivery.

She’s one of nearly 300 women the Baton Rouge institution — which delivers the most babies among Louisiana's single hospital providers — is trying to enroll in its study, which is also being conducted at hospitals in Chicago and Newark as part of a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program is open to patients on Medicaid or without health insurance who are between 15 and 49 years old. They cannot be carrying twins or multiple babies and must be in their first seven months of pregnancy.

Researchers will compare the outcomes of patients who have been paired with doulas and a control group that receives routine care without a doula. They are trying to determine whether the patients who use doulas are more engaged in their health care, whether doulas help patients handle stressful situations and whether they help ease mistrust and perceived discrimination felt by some patients.

Some studies have correlated doula care with better outcomes, including lower rates of cesarean sections and premature deliveries. They’ve also shown reductions in stress among pregnant patients. Woman’s has not analyzed its data yet on outcomes among patients enrolled in the study. Anecdotally, though, hospital officials say they’ve gotten positive feedback.
Ceaser said working with the doulas for her seventh delivery made a huge difference. She said they treated her like a first-time mom, and said she felt connected to Tobias the first time they met. Tobias helped clear up misinformation and answer her questions.

About Woman’s Hospital

Woman’s is a specialty hospital for women and infants located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Since opening in 1968, it has welcomed more than 375,000 babies, making it one of the largest delivery services in the country and the largest in Louisiana. Additionally, Woman’s operates a level III-S neonatal intensive care unit; this designation allows them to care for infants who are extremely premature, are critically ill or require surgical intervention. The hospital is also recognized for its expertise in mammography as well as breast and gynecologic cancer care. As a private, nonprofit organization, all funds are reinvested into the hospital to continue Woman’s mission to improve the health of women and infants through the latest technology, a highly qualified staff and critical community programs and services.