Here is the Executive Summary: Full report to be released later this summer!
The Maternity Support Survey is a survey of maternity support workers from across the United States and Canada that investigates the following topics:
- Whether doulas and childbirth educators view their maternity support work as a career (including the conditions and financial challenges that maternity support workers face)
- How doulas and childbirth educators establish their expertise (the importance of certification and other credentials)
- How technology affects workload among labor and delivery nurses
- How health insurance and litigation concerns influence maternity support workers, organizational protocols, and the frequency of interventions into labor and delivery
- Emotional burnout among maternity support workers
The Maternity Support Survey partnered with the following organizations in the recruitment of participants: Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), Birthing from Within, BirthWorks, CAPPA Canada, DONA International, Health Connect One, International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), Lamaze International, and toLABOR (formerly ALACE).
Road map to the report
For this report, we provide an overview of the rationale for the survey, and background. We discuss the maternity context of the U.S. and Canada, including maternal outcomes, quality initiatives, and the role of maternity support workers in each country. The report describes the data and methods as well as partner organizations in this survey.
Next, we present basic descriptive summaries of the results of the survey using cross-tabulations and averages. We present demographic data by maternity support role. All other tables compare across roles only and include respondents from both the United States and Canada. To determine statistical significance of differences across groups, we used chi-square tests of significance and t-tests for differences in means across groups.
Highlights from the Maternity Support Survey
The majority of respondents in all roles were white women in their 40s who have a bachelor’s degree or higher. There is a great deal of consensus among the three roles in attitudes toward typical childbirth practices, but the level of agreement showed that, in many cases, doulas were likely to hold stronger views compared to childbirth educators and nurses. All three roles agreed that continuous electronic fetal monitoring has increased the cesarean rate, and that induction increases the risk of cesarean.
Future Analytic Directions
The research team is composed of scholars who have a variety of research interests. We have identified several topics for analysis in the near future. These topics and sample research questions are listed below:
- Doula work as a career. How do doulas sustain their practice through additional training and credentials?
- Breastfeeding attitudes and practices. How do maternity support workers compare in terms of their attitudes and practices around breastfeeding? How central is personal experience in their views on breastfeeding?
- Emotional intelligence and emotional burnout. How do maternity support workers differ by emotional intelligence, and how does emotional intelligence mitigate emotional burnout? How do these issues affect nursing quality of care and medical errors?
- ACA changes in doula care coverage. How might changes in reimbursement of doulas via the Affordable Care Act affect doula care work and the demographics of the doula workforce?
- Documentation and L&D Nurses. How do L&D nurses view documentation practices and its effects, if any, on their ability to care for birthing women?
- Orientation toward reproductive justice. How do maternity support workers compare in terms of their attitudes toward choice and rights in the context of reproductive and maternity practices?
- Country comparisons. How are the Canadian and the U.S. maternity care systems alike and different, in terms of maternity support workers?