An Integrative Review: The Role of the Doula in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration

This article was originally published here

J Perinat Educ. 2021 Jan 1;30(1):29-47. doi: 10.1891/J-PE-D-20-00037. Epub 2020 Dec 28.


The objective of this integrative review was to assess birth and postpartum doulas’ roles in supporting breastfeeding initiation and duration. The electronic databases Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Embase, PubMed, and Scopus were searched using the key terms doula and breastfeeding. Fourteen articles met inclusion criteria. Six key themes were identified. Doulas may acquire only modest amounts of lactation-specific education; however, doula care still enhances the breastfeeding care provided by health-care professionals. Doulas offer prenatal and intrapartum support that encourages breastfeeding initiation in the hospital, as well as providing breastfeeding support in the community and home settings. This reinforces the unique role of the doula in bolstering maternal-infant health. The effect of doulas on breastfeeding duration is less clear.

PMID:33488045 | PMC:PMC7819475 | DOI:10.1891/J-PE-D-20-00037