The birth of a baby represents a profound and permanent life change for the parents and other family members. After nine months of pregnancy and the stresses of labour and birth, a family is born. For new parents, the challenges are numerous: recovery from childbirth, total responsibility for a tiny, dependent newborn, sleeplessness, emotional adjustment, mastery of breastfeeding, understanding of and adjustment to parenthood and household organization. Sometimes the mental health of the new mother or baby is compromised and the new parents need more help than they had expected.
In todays society, many new parents are ill prepared for this transition and feels isolated from caring, knowledgeable helpers and advisors. In times past, new parents could usually depend on their own parents, other family members or friends to assist them. Most new parents are completely alone and had to cope all by themselves with this new responsibility of parenthood. They need help and help is available if they do research. Throughout the ages, in nearly all societies for which we have records, women have been helped and comforted in labour by other women. These women stayed throughout labour providing physical comfort, emotional reassurance, and information. Every woman want that kind of support.
Numerous studies show good support during childbirth reduce unnecessary interventions. The availability of support in labour can affect a woman’s chances of having any interventions because every woman wants a beautiful and healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience. Good labour support can help a pregnant woman reduce risks associated with these interventions. Overall, women who received continious support during labour were less likely to have:
- Have regional analgesia
- Have any analgesia/anaesthesia
- Give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps
- Give birth by caesarean
- Have a baby with a low 5-minute Apgar score
- Report dissatisfaction or a negative rating of their experience.
Women receiving continuous support were more likely than those who did not to:
- give birth spontaneously (that is, with neither caesarean nor vacuum extraction nor forceps)
- have a shorter labour.