Support during Labour and Birth

Be sure to ask your doctor and hospital whether your partner or a support person or both may be present during your labor and in the delivery room. You may want to confirm with mothers who have used the same doctor and hospital whether they have been allowed to have support people with them through their birth experiences.

The Benefits of Continuous Labour and Birth Support

Regardless of location, type of maternity care or social background, mothers have positive outcomes when they have continuous labour and birth support. Virtually all studies show that support positively impacts the mother's emotional experience and labour, and no disadvantages have been found. 

When compared with women who did not receive continuous support, those who received continuous support were more likely to:

- Avoid using any pain medication, including epidural, other regional analgesia and narcotics.

- Give birth vaginally, not by caesarean section.

- Give birth without the use of vacuum extraction or forceps.

- Be satisfied with or give a positive rating to their childbirth experience (Hodnett and colleagues 2004).

Who Can Provide Support during Labour and Birth?

Husband, family member, friend, or trained doula.

Support from a Husband, Family Member, or Friend:

For most couples, experiencing the birth of their baby together is an unforgettable experience. Family members and friends can also make great labour support partners. The best outcomes can be achieved through preparation, so encourage your labour support person to attend childbirth classes and read books on how to support women giving birth.  Also, make sure you keep your labour support person informed about your birth plan, so they know it inside out. Give them a copy of the plan and ask them to bring it to the hospital at the time your admission. Having a copy of your birth plan helps your support person and your doctor remember and respect your choices.

On the other hand, avoid the presence of family members at your labour and delivery who may make you feel anxious or self conscious. Even the most well-meaning, loving family member is not an appropriate support person if they spread negativity or are fearful or anxious of the birth process. Specifically avoid the presence of anyone with whom you have unresolved personal issues or who does not support your choice of a natural childbirth. It difficult to tell someone you would not like them at the birth, enlist the help of your husband and/or other family members.

Support from a Doula: 

A doula is a person who is trained and experienced with childbirth and whom you can hire to support you through your labour and birth. A doula:

- Provides physical and emotional support.

- Offers help and advice on comfort measures, such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positions, during both labour and birth.

- Informs the woman and her partner about the course of her labour and their options.

- Provides continuous emotional reassurance and comfort.

Doulas specialise in non-medical skills and do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or foetal heart rate monitoring. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions or give medical advice. Most importantly, doulas do not make decisions for their clients – they do not project their own values and goals onto the labouring woman.

If you hire a doula, you can give the doula a copy of your birth plan to bring to the hospital to remind you, your partner, doula and doctor of what’s important to you for the birth of your baby.

Additionally, doulas can also provide support during the last months of pregnancy and in the first few weeks postpartum – helping and educating new parents.

– From DONA (Doulas of North America)

Who Do You Ask for Support?

Labour support is not a role everyone can perform.  Some husbands or family members may have a hard time seeing a loved one in pain or struggling with labour. They may experience their own emotions during the birth, or they may be uncomfortable in medical settings. They may also feel that their knowledge is inadequate for the situation. So, whom do you ask to be your support? Consider asking your husband AND a friend or relative. Or consider hiring a doula. No matter what your decision, remember that the real gift of the labour support person is to provide much-needed physical and emotional nurturing during labour and immediately postpartum.

Read testimonials from Bangalore mothers who had doula support for their childbirth.

My doula helped me have a wonderful, natural childbirth experience, exactly the experience that I wanted. She was supportive throughout my baby’s birth – holding my hand, making me comfortable, and liaising with doctors. Thank you for giving me beautiful memories of my daughter entering this world.” – S, first-time mom,

“After having my first child in England, where natural childbirth is strongly encouraged and promoted, I was apprehensive about having my second child in India, but I was lucky to find my doula. Having her at the birth of my daughter was nothing less than a godsend. She is an angel – her kind words and unwavering support were a lifeline to me during and after the birth. She is dedicated to helping achieve the best outcome for mother and baby…”– H, second-time mom

“Our doula gave us the confidence to negotiate the aspects of birth and made us realise that giving birth is a natural and wonderful experience. It was our first pregnancy and birth. Our doula not only gave us the information, but also the right attitude to welcome our son into the world. We cannot thank her enough for her support. In the confusing and overwhelming world of giving birth, she was a fabulous guide who saw us through.” – C, first-time mom

“…Throughout labour and delivery, my doula was a quiet, strong support. She remained gentle and calm at all times. Her respect for my husband and me was paramount and she knew just how to stay on the sidelines while continuously keeping an eye on my needs and our plan…She brought a peaceful and encouraging presence to our delivery experience.”  L, fifth-time mom