I’ve just been made aware of this study: http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003766.html
It makes clear the benefits of having continuous support from another woman in labour who is not a member of the hospital staff. What I find interesting is that the other statistically significant findings are about environment and access to epidural.
We know that doulas routinely provide support from early labour, even during the latent phase, and can have a powerfully positive effect on the concrete environment and on how safe and secure the woman feels as she labours. However, the epidural question remains – how do women labour spontaneously and instinctively in a hospital environment when they know the an epidural is only a shout away?