New study recommends doula support during abortion procedures

image from exhaleprovoice.orgMany women choose to have a doula–a lay support person–present during their labor process. A doula’s support has been connected to maternal and child health benefits such as pain control, shorter labor, decreased rates of cesarean delivery, and breastfeeding assistance. In full-spectrum reproductive health care, doulas can provide support for women during not only labor and delivery, but also for a variety of reproductive experiences, including miscarriage, adoption, and abortion.

While each of these reproductive experiences has unique physical and emotional challenges, a doula’s role is consistent: be a source of emotional, physical, and social support.

Section faculty Dr. Julie Chor researches the effect and role of doulas in abortion care. Her most recent publication, co-authored with Dr. Melissa Gilliam and Dr. Brandon Hill, appeared in the June 2014 online edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In this study, Dr. Chor hypothesized that women having a first trimester abortion with doula support would have significantly less pain than women randomized to usual care.

She found that the although the majority of women who had an abortion were satisfied with the procedure, doula support did not statistically impact recalled pain. However, 96.2% of women who received doula support recommended that doula support be routinely used during procedures and 60.4% expressed interest in training to become a doula. Additionally, more than 70% of women who did not receive doula support said they would have wanted someone present to provide support during their procedure.

Furthermore, women receiving doula support were less likely to require additional clinic support resources. Doula support, Chor suggests, may address patient psychosocial needs.

Dr. Chor’s findings are relevant and timely, as volunteer abortion doula groups are organizing across the country and increasingly being used in clinics.

Click here to read more of Dr. Chor’s research on expanding the role of doulas into abortion care.