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Concept: Doula


Childbirth fear is linked with lower labor pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment. Empirically validated childbirth preparation options are lacking for pregnant women facing this problem. Mindfulness approaches, now widely disseminated, can alleviate symptoms of both chronic and acute pain and improve psychological adjustment, suggesting potential benefit when applied to childbirth education.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Uterus, Randomized controlled trial, Obstetrics, Pain, Pelvic girdle pain, Doula


The purpose of this study was to examine variations in endogenous oxytocin levels in pregnancy and postpartum state. We also explored the associations between delivery variables and oxytocin levels. A final sample of 272 mothers in their first trimester of pregnancy was included for the study. Blood samples were drawn during the first trimester and third trimester of pregnancy and at 8 weeks postpartum. Socio-demographic data were collected at each time point and medical files were consulted for delivery details. In most women, levels of circulating oxytocin increased from the first to third trimester of pregnancy followed by a decrease in the postpartum period. Oxytocin levels varied considerably between individuals, ranging from 50 pg/mL to over 2000 pg/mL. Parity was the main predictor of oxytocin levels in the third trimester of pregnancy and of oxytocin level changes from the first to the third trimester of pregnancy. Oxytocin levels in the third trimester of pregnancy predicted a self-reported negative labor experience and increased the chances of having an epidural. Intrapartum exogenous oxytocin was positively associated with levels of oxytocin during the postpartum period. Our exploratory results suggest that circulating oxytocin levels during the third trimester of pregnancy may predict the type of labor a woman will experience. More importantly, the quantity of intrapartum exogenous oxytocin administered during labor predicted plasma oxytocin levels 2 months postpartum, suggesting a possible long-term effect of this routine intervention, the consequences of which are largely unknown.

Concepts: Time, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Obstetrics, Postnatal, Woman, Doula


The purpose of the study was to describe Chinese women’s postpartum physiological and psychological health and adherence to “doing-the-month” practices. A descriptive repeated measures design was used, with data collected at 3 days and 6 weeks postpartum. The convenience sample consisted of 198 healthy childbearing women with a term birth. Maternal physical health was measured by the Six-Minute Walk (endurance), Chair Stand test (muscle strength), severity of physical symptoms, and physical health subscales of SF36v2. Maternal psychological health was measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale. Adherence was measured by the Adherence to Doing-the-Month Practices questionnaire. Aerobic endurance and lower-body muscle strength improved significantly across time (p < .001) but remained suboptimal for maternal age. Women who delivered by Cesarean section had significantly poorer physical health than those who had a vaginal delivery. Physical functioning significantly increased, but general health and role limitations due to physical health significantly decreased over time. Postpartum physical symptoms decreased in number and severity. Depression increased over time (p < .001). Adherence to doing the month was negatively correlated with aerobic endurance and positively correlated with depression at 6 weeks (p < .05). These findings challenge the assumption that practices of doing the month are healthy for Chinese women's recovery after childbirth. Research-based evidence needs to be integrated into doing-the-month practices. Education of Chinese women and families, whether living at home or abroad, is needed about the adverse health effects of doing the month. Routine screening for postpartum depression is also advised.

Concepts: Childbirth, Health, Obstetrics, Postnatal, Repeated measures design, Bipolar disorder, Postpartum depression, Doula



Postpartum haemorrhage is a leading cause of maternal death worldwide. Oxytocin, currently the drug of choice for prevention of PPH, requires constant refrigeration. In pursuit of an alternative medicine, Ferring Pharmaceuticals have developed a heat-stable formulation of carbetocin, an oxytocin analogue. This study aimed to define that formulation, and to investigate its stability under ICH climate zone IV conditions (30°C/75% relative humidity) for at least 3 years and at extreme temperatures, such as 60°C, for shorter periods of time. The development resulted in a heat-stable carbetocin formulation consisting of 0.1 mg/mL carbetocin in sodium succinate buffer, mannitol, and methionine. The optimum pH was determined to be pH 5.45 (5.25-5.65). The generated stability data of this formulation show that ≥95% purity of the peptide was maintained for a minimum of 3 years at 30°C, 6 months at 40°C, 3 months at 50°C and 1 month at 60°C. In addition, the heat-stable carbetocin formulation was not sensitive to freezing or light. The reported highly stable peptide formulation facilitates the distribution in low and middle-income countries, where maintaining cold chain distribution is difficult. Ferring Pharmaceuticals, the World Health Organization, and MSD for Mothers have established a collaboration to develop this heat-stable formulation of carbetocin for the prevention of post-partum hemorrhage in women after vaginal childbirth, with the aim of making the medicine available in the public sector of developing countries that have a high burden of maternal mortality.

Concepts: Medicine, Childbirth, Obstetrics, Oxytocin, Relative humidity, Postnatal, Maternal death, Doula


Introduction: The safety and effectiveness of birth center care have been demonstrated in previous studies, including the National Birth Center Study and the San Diego Birth Center Study. This study examines outcomes of birth center care in the present maternity care environment. Methods: This was a prospective cohort study of women receiving care in 79 midwifery-led birth centers in 33 US states from 2007 to 2010. Data were entered into the American Association of Birth Centers Uniform Data Set after obtaining informed consent. Analysis was by intention to treat, with descriptive statistics calculated for maternal and neonatal outcomes for all women presenting to birth centers in labor including those requiring transfer to hospital care. Results: Of 15,574 women who planned and were eligible for birth center birth at the onset of labor, 84% gave birth at the birth center. Four percent were transferred to a hospital prior to birth center admission, and 12% were transferred in labor after admission. Regardless of where they gave birth, 93% of women had a spontaneous vaginal birth, 1% an assisted vaginal birth, and 6% a cesarean birth. Of women giving birth in the birth center, 2.4% required transfer postpartum, whereas 2.6% of newborns were transferred after birth. Most transfers were nonemergent, with 1.9% of mothers or newborns requiring emergent transfer during labor or after birth. There were no maternal deaths. The intrapartum fetal mortality rate for women admitted to the birth center in labor was 0.47/1000. The neonatal mortality rate was 0.40/1000 excluding anomalies. Discussion: This study demonstrates the safety of the midwifery-led birth center model of collaborative care as well as continued low obstetric intervention rates, similar to previous studies of birth center care. These findings are particularly remarkable in an era characterized by increases in obstetric intervention and cesarean birth nationwide.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Mortality rate, Obstetrics, Midwifery, Perinatal mortality, Doula


Objectives. We compared childbirth-related outcomes for Medicaid recipients who received prenatal education and childbirth support from trained doulas with outcomes from a national sample of similar women and estimated potential cost savings. Methods. We calculated descriptive statistics for Medicaid-funded births nationally (from the 2009 Nationwide Inpatient Sample; n = 279 008) and births supported by doula care (n = 1079) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2010 to 2012; used multivariate regression to estimate impacts of doula care; and modeled potential cost savings associated with reductions in cesarean delivery for doula-supported births. Results. The cesarean rate was 22.3% among doula-supported births and 31.5% among Medicaid beneficiaries nationally. The corresponding preterm birth rates were 6.1% and 7.3%, respectively. After control for clinical and sociodemographic factors, odds of cesarean delivery were 40.9% lower for doula-supported births (adjusted odds ratio = 0.59; P < .001). Potential cost savings to Medicaid programs associated with such cesarean rate reductions are substantial but depend on states' reimbursement rates, birth volume, and current cesarean rates. Conclusions. State Medicaid programs should consider offering coverage for birth doulas to realize potential cost savings associated with reduced cesarean rates. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print February 14, 2013: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301201).

Concepts: Childbirth, Statistics, Obstetrics, Odds ratio, Epidural, Caesarean section, Preterm birth, Doula


Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is a leading cause of maternal death in Sokoto State, Nigeria, where 95% of women give birth outside of a health facility. Although pilot schemes have demonstrated the value of community-based distribution of misoprostol for the prevention of PPH, none have provided practical insight on taking such programs to scale.

Concepts: Childbirth, Obstetrics, Postnatal, Woman, Vagina, Postpartum depression, Doula, Sokoto State


The postpartum period is associated with a high risk of psychiatric episodes. The authors studied mortality in women with first-onset severe psychiatric disorders following childbirth and compared their mortality rates with those in women from the background population including other female psychiatric patients (mothers and childless women).

Concepts: Childbirth, Mortality rate, English-language films, Mental disorder, Postnatal, Woman, Psychiatry, Doula


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to make a case for novel and innovative reentry programs focused on women of color and to describe policy recommendations that are necessary to support the sustainability of these programs and in turn the success of the women who participate in them. Design/methodology/approach A review and analysis of the literature that described job-training opportunities specifically targeted to women exiting jail and the impact on recidivism provided limited information. The authors developed, implemented, and evaluated doula training program for low-income and women of color to determine if birth work could provide stable income and decrease recidivism. Findings Training low-income formerly incarcerated women to become birth doulas is an innovative strategy to solve employment barriers faced by women reentering communities from jail. Realigning women within communities via birth support to other women also provides culturally relevant and appropriate members of the healthcare team for traditionally vulnerable populations. Doulas are important members of the healthcare workforce and can improve birth outcomes. The authors' work testing doula training, as a reentry vocational program has been successful in producing 16 culturally relevant and appropriate doulas of color that experienced no re-arrests and to date no program participant has experienced recidivism. Originality/value To be successful, the intersections of race, gender, and poverty, for women of color should be considered in the design of reentry programs for individuals exiting jail. The authors' work provided formerly incarcerated and low-income women of color with vocational skills that provide consistent income, serve as a gateway to the health professions, and increase the numbers of well-trained people of color who serve as providers of care.

Concepts: Childbirth, Training, Prison, Recidivism, Doula, Vocational education, Colored, Person of color