Young mothers are more likely to breastfeed and have positive relationships with their babies when they have another woman "mothering" them in the delivery room, according to new research at the University of Chicago on the value of doulaswomen who help with deliveries and early care for mothers and babies.
The assistance from doulas is particularly valuable to young mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Those mothers sometimes receive help from women known as community doulas, who are from similar backgrounds as the young women and who visit them weekly for several months before and after delivery.
"Follow-up interviews and observations of disadvantaged young women who received help from a community doula demonstrated that mothers showed more positive emotions and were more encouraging of their four-month-old infants' learning than were similar women who did not receive the help," said Sydney Hans, the Samuel Deutsch Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
"In addition, infants whose mothers had been assigned to the doula intervention were less likely than were infants in the comparison group to have long periods of distress," added Hans, who is lead author of two recently published scientific studies that are the first to look at the value of the work of community doulas.
For this research, the team enrolled 248 mostly low-income African American women. Half received normal prenatal care, and the other half received weekly visits from doulas from before birth to three months after birth. During their visits, the doulas, who received 10 weeks of training, discussed pregnancy, health, childbirth preparation and bonding. They were present at the child's birth and discussed child development during postpartum visits.
In examining breastfeeding, Hans' article, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that 64 percent of mothers who were assisted by a doula breastfed, co
|Contact: Jann Ingmire|
University of Chicago