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The involvement of a lay support person, known as a doula, in the labour process is a long-standing practice across different cultures and traditions. A great body of literature exists evaluating the effect of a support layperson within the labour process on maternal and neonatal outcomes. This literature demonstrates a positive association between doula support and decreased labour time, oxytocin utilisation, Caesarean section rates and need for epidural/anaesthesia.1 Given the varied benefits afforded to women through doula support at the time of labour, the authors believe that women's health providers should consider the potential role that continuous lay person support could play at other physically and emotionally challenging moments in women's lives.
Doulas in abortion care
One such setting in which doula support would be highly beneficial is in abortion care. Abortion is a stressful event regardless of a woman's circumstances. Unlike pregnancy in which women can accustom themselves for the forthcoming delivery over a period of time, the decision to terminate pregnancy often leaves little time for reflection. Also unlike pregnancy, women often obtain abortion services from medical caregivers with whom they have had no prior relationship. While these and other differences clearly exist between labour and pregnancy termination, many benefits afforded by the presence of a doula during labour would likely translate well into abortion care.
One example of the way in which doula involvement would naturally benefit …
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