U of M study: Access to doulas reduces cesarean births

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Access to a doula, described as a trained professional who provides coaching and support to women before, during, and after childbirth, may reduce a mother's chances of having a cesarean section.

Those are the findings of a student from the University of Minnesota, published Friday in the American Journal of Managed Care. The university's HealthTalk website noted that the research for the study was conducted by the university's School of Public Health. It examined the benefits for women who have access to doulas, using a national sample of 2,400 women who gave birth in 2011-2012.

KSTP's story on the study compared women with a delivery room doula to women who labored without a trained birth coach. The research showed the presence of a doula was linked to a near 60 percent reduction in women's odds of having a cesarean.

The station added that the average cost of a doula in the Twin Cities is between $500 and $1,000. C-sections cost about $10,000 more than a vaginal birth. The study's author told KSTP that the findings could prompt insurance companies to consider covering the cost of a doula's services.

"I think it's an impetus for health care and especially health insurance companies, to really look at, are there ways they can really increase access to this service among women they insure, and would that help allow for a better birth experience," Katy Kozhimannil, the study's author and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota told the station.

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