Birth outcomes of two groups of socially disadvantaged mothers at risk for adverse birth outcomes, one receiving prebirth assistance from a certified doula and the other representing a sample of birthing mothers who elected to not work with a doula, were compared. All of the mothers were participants in a prenatal health and childbirth education program. Expectant mothers matched with a doula had better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight (LBW) baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding. Communication with and encouragement from a doula throughout the pregnancy may have increased the mother's self-efficacy regarding her ability to impact her own pregnancy outcomes.
Keywords: birth outcome; doula; prenatal health.