NCT response: BMJ study on doulas

Released on: 20 July 2011

Commenting on, a doctor today says that the presence of doulas during labour may alter the doctor-patient dynamic and can compromise communication and therefore patient care.

Furthermore, the need for doulas implies a failing of medical and midwifery services and also the support provided by family and friends, says Dr Abhijoy Chakladar who was working at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex when he first encountered a doula.

Mary Newburn, Head of Research & Information, NCT, says;


“All women need one-to-one midwifery care throughout their labour and emotional support from a companion - this can either be a partner, friend or a doula. Doulas are women experienced in supporting women during normal childbirth and provide emotional and physical support, and may be paid for by the woman herself or via the NHS. 


“The NCT believes it’s important that women are given support throughout labour so they can feel calm, relaxed and reassured. For most, this means they would like to have some sort of birth companion with them, whether it’s the father, doula, friend or all three. Clinical decision making is the not the role of the doula and doulas should enhance the communication between the woman and her professional carers.

“There is strong evidence that continuous support from a non-health professional throughout labour results in better birth experiences and fewer interventions. Having access to a doula is also particularly important for those women who do not have a partner, friend or relative who can fill this role.”