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Doulas Help Families Meet Breastfeeding Goals

Research from the School of Nursing shows that these support professionals can be another tool to improve outcomes for newborns and parents.

Fewer than 10% of women who give birth in the United States each year use doulas. But these professionals—who aren’t medical providers, but rather individuals whose job focuses on supporting families during the birthing process—have been shown to improve birth outcomes.

New research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing demonstrates that they can help families meet breastfeeding goals, too. Diane Spatz, a professor of perinatal nursing in Penn Nursing and manager of the lactation program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Penn senior Stephanie N. Acquaye, published the findings in The Journal of Perinatal Education.

The project evolved naturally, after Acquaye, who became a doula her sophomore year at Penn, approached Spatz for help honing a research project for her upper-level Nursing course. “There had been various studies done on doulas and breastfeeding, but no one had synthesized the information,” Spatz says.

This is an excerpt from a larger article that originally appeared in Penn Today. It was written by Michele Berger, senior science news officer in University Communications.