Effects of psychosocial support during labour and childbirth on breastfeeding, medical interventions, and mothers' wellbeing in a Mexican public hospital: a randomised clinical trial
Article first published online: 19 AUG 2005
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Volume 105, Issue 10, pages 1056–1063, October 1998
How to Cite
Langer, A., Campero, L., Garcia, C. and Reynoso, S. (1998), Effects of psychosocial support during labour and childbirth on breastfeeding, medical interventions, and mothers' wellbeing in a Mexican public hospital: a randomised clinical trial. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 105: 1056–1063. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1998.tb09936.x
- Issue published online: 19 AUG 2005
- Article first published online: 19 AUG 2005
- Received 9 July 1997 Returned for revision 29 December 1997 & 3 March 1998 Accepted 2 April 1998
Object To evaluate the effects of psychosocial support during labour, delivery and the immediate postpartum period provided by a female companion (doula).
Design The effects of the intervention were assessed by means of a randomised clinical trial. Social support by a doula was provided to women in the intervention group, while women in the control arm received routine care.
Setting A large social security hospital in Mexico City.
Participants Seven hundred and twenty-four women with a single fetus, no previous vaginal delivery, < 6 cm of cervical dilatation, and no indications for an elective caesarean section were randomly assigned to be accompanied by a doula, or to receive routine care.
Outcome measures Breastfeeding practices, duration of labour, medical interventions, mother's emotional conditions, and newborn's health.
Methods Blinded interviewers obtained data from the clinical records, during encounters with women in the immediate postpartum period, and at their homes 40 days after birth. Relative risks and confidence intervals were estimated for all relevant outcomes.
Results The frequency of exclusive breastfeeding one month after birth was significantly higher in the intervention group (RR 1.64; I-C: 1.01–2.64), as were the behaviours that promote breastfeeding. However, the programme did not achieve a significant effect on full breastfeeding. More women in the intervention group perceived a high degree of control over the delivery experience, and the duration of labour was shorter than in the control group (4.56 hours vs 5.58 hours; RR 1.07 CI (95%) =−1.52 to −0.51). There were no effects either on medical interventions, mothers' anxiety, self-esteem, perception of pain and satisfaction, or in newborns' conditions.
Conclusions Psychosocial support by doulas had a positive effect on breastfeeding and duration of labour. It had a more limited impact on medical interventions, perhaps because of the strict routine in hospital procedures, the cultural background of the women, the short duration of the intervention, and the profile of the doulas. It is important to include psychosocial support as a component of breastfeeding promotion strategies.